The Social Security Commission (SSC) is set to pay N$1,000 per month for three months to employees from sectors hard-hit by the impact of the coronavirus.
SSC Executive Officer Milka Mungunda said sectors to be covered by the grant to be administered by the fund include construction, farming, transport, manufacturing, retail, domestic workers and entertainment among others.
“Vulnerable employees in the formal sector who are paid up SSC members will also receive a grant of N$1,000 a month during this period provided that they do not earn more than N$50,000 per annum,” said Mungunda said.
Assuming all legal hurdles, approvals, and regulatory requirements are met, she added that the Commission intends to provide a temporary wage subsidy from a budget of N$700 million in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, to employers in sectors hit hard by COVID-19, provided that they agree to retain workers for a period of three months. However, the SSC Exec was quick to point out that the disbursement of the grant to beneficiary companies will be conditional.
“There will be an audit on the contribution history of employers to the SSC and those members who have never contributed to the SSC may be passed over on this grant. Furthermore, we will consider requiring the potential beneficiaries to not to retrench or reduce staff by more than 50 percent for more than three months,” she said.
“On top of this grant, qualifying employers would be given a contribution holiday for April, May and June.”
Mungunda said although the fund has been forced to dip into 10 percent of its total assets to mitigate the strain of the COVID-19 on the labour industry, it also investigating the possibility of providing financial relief to members in the informal sector.
“While the informal sector may be accommodated after more research has been conducted, discussions are currently ongoing with local authorities as well as that sector’s various stakeholders on how best to cater for them. While grants will also apply to workers in the informal sector provided, they sign up as SSC members (if they were not already) and keep up with their contributions for the first 12 months, there are also discussions on how to assist the sector post COVID-19 by providing training and facilities,” she said.
On whether the Commission has started recording an increase default by employers for their monthly payments and the impact it will have on the fund, she said, “So far, we have some employers defaulting on their contributions to the SSC, although this number has not been significant. Moving forward we expect a big deduction of members, employees will have their salaries reduced and as the SSC, we are preparing ourselves for the impact that this will have on us.”