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Mar 24, 2020

A Statutory Instrument for Laid off Workers to Claim S.S.B. Benefits

Among the first to feel the implications of COVID-19 are the thousands of persons, primarily from the tourism industry, who have been sent home without pay or placed on holiday.  It means that their source of income has dried up and there is uncertainty about the next pay check as businesses shutter down. It is suspected that many will be jobless for at least a month in the first instance or maybe for a longer period.  During that time, social security contributions will not be paid and as a result, the employees risk losing benefits for sickness, maternity and other illnesses.  But this is a crisis, and according to the Chair of the Social Security Board, Doug Singh, a Statutory Instrument is being proposed to fix the problem since S.S.B.’s obligation to assist people in time of need.


Doug Singh

Doug Singh, Chair, S.S.B.

“If I am not employed as a result of unintentional unemployment as a result of COVID-19, I don’t have thirteen consecutive…I have not worked last week and I get sick this week or I have not worked for two weeks as a result of being laid off or having to suspend my employment because I am in the tourism industry, as a waiter. What does that mean for me if I get ill with COVID-19? Well what we are doing is we are proposing a Statutory Instrument amendment to the Act that says that if you become ill as a result of COVID-19 and your employment was suspended or you become unemployed as a result of this, it will be treated as if you were continuously employed up to that point in time. So the language is being worked out, but the message that we are trying to send to the public and employers is don’t be concerned about that. These are unusual circumstances. People expect social security to be there at a time of desperate need. And I think as difficult as it would be for the fund, we will deal with that down the road. It is our obligation to provide services to people who become ill with some life-threatening illness.”

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