NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The National Insurance Board (NIB) yesterday announced that a new online portal for the government funded unemployment benefit extension will launch July 20.
The Ministry of Finance earlier this month confirmed that $48 million has been allocated to finance an expansion of the government’s unemployment assistance programs administered via the National Insurance Board (NIB).
The unemployment assistance is for workers that fall under four categories:
Individuals who were unemployed due to the COVID-19 shutdown between March 23 – June 30, and continue to be unemployed, are eligible for the extension programme if they fall under one of four categories: Persons who have exhausted their 13 weeks of NIB’s unemployment benefit (UEB) payments which became payable because of layoffs/termination due to COVID 19; Individuals who were enrolled in the Hurricane Dorian UEB Extension Programme and had exhausted the 13 weeks of extended payments; Individuals who were employed in full time employment for at least three months before the COVID-19 related shutdown and were under the age of 35 but did not meet the required number of contributions to claim NIB’s unemployment benefit and self-employed individuals in the tourism sector who were previously enrolled in the Government-funded Unemployment Assistance (UEA) Programme.
NIB said in a press release yesterday that all eligible individuals must register on the portal to receive financial assistance. Eligible individuals will receive $150 per week for a maximum of 13 weeks during periods of unemployment.
NIB said yesterday that it has assessed the records of thousands of contributors and self-employed persons, and will pre-enroll individuals that meet the eligibility requirements for the extension programme. The new portal dynamically pulls information from the NIB database to simplify the process of registration for eligible individuals.
NIB noted that all eligible persons must register on the portal to verify their information and view their enrollment status to receive payments under the extension programme. They will also receive an email notification after registering. After signing into the portal, individuals will see a notice indicating whether they meet the requirement for enrollment or not.
NIB said that payments will begin on Thursday, July 23rd 2020 and will continue every two weeks thereafter for a period up to 13-weeks.
According to NIB, prior to receiving payments every pay-out period, registrants must declare their current employment status on the portal. This verification is to be done a minimum of 3 days before the next payment. If a person does not verify within the mentioned time frame, they will not get a payment.
It was noted that if a person is working part time (i.e. less that 40 hours per week) and that person would normally be a full time worker, they are eligible to receive $30 per day for each work day they did not work during the week.
NIB noted that it reserves the right to contact a registrant’s employer, where applicable, to verify an individual’s declaration. Only individuals who remain unemployed or partially employed are eligible to receive assistance.
Individuals who received their NIB Unemployment Benefit payment directly through their employer during the COVID-19 shutdown period, will continue to receive funds by that method while on this extension programme. Employers will verify the employment status on an individual’s behalf NIB noted.
Also, persons who received NIB Unemployment Benefit payments via direct deposit to their bank account from NIB during the COVID-19 shutdown period will continue to receive payment by bank transfer. Payments may be delayed if incorrect banking information was provided.
According to NIB persons who received NIB Unemployment Benefit payments via cheque, for any reason, during the COVID-19 shutdown period, will receive extension payments through the provider ‘Island Pay’, via an Island Pay Digital Wallet. Payments in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands will be made via cheque until further notice.
Self-employed persons in the tourism sector will continue to be paid assistance via the method they had been using before (direct bank deposit, Suncash or cheque payment).
NIB warned that is an offense to file a false claim of unemployment. If a person does so, he or she will be prosecuted and could be subject to criminal penalties. If a person goes back to work, he or she should not apply or complete a false verification form. NIB will conduct checks with employers and otherwise to confirm information provided by applicants.