NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Thousands of work permit holders who have been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be entitled to receive their unemployment benefit, a well-known QC has suggested.
“I haven’t seen any law that disentitles them to the benefit,” said attorney Wayne Munroe.
“I’m not sure where people get that from. What usually happens with a work permit is when you are fired your work permit is at an end and you have to leave the country, therefore the issue of unemployment does not arise. These however are different circumstances. People aren’t being terminated per se, they are being furloughed and so yes as I see it they are entitled to the benefit.”
He continued: “How do you take money from someone as a mandatory contribution, even if they are a foreigner and tell them there is no benefit for them to get. They should be entitled to maternity benefit and the rest of it if they qualified based on contributions. If you go to the United States and make social security payments how are you not entitled to the benefit?”
Some 11,276 work permit holders have reportedly been approved since January 1, 2019. The National Insurance Board has been inundated with unemployment assistance requests.
NIB yesterday issued an appeal to employers who have not recently filed their contributions statements (C10s) and have laid off staff to file the C10s as soon as possible so that the Unemployment Benefit (UEB) can be paid quickly.
“For the last year, NIB has stepped up its enforcement efforts to ensure that employers file their contribution statements and make their NIB payments. At this point, the most important issue is for NIB to have the C10 statements so that insurable wages can be calculated and credited to the employees’ accounts,” NIB said.
It added, “To date, NIB was able to quickly process over 12,000 Unemployment Benefit (UEB) applications related to COVID-19. However, there are another 2,000 claims in process which have been stalled because of the lack of C10 information. Without the C10 forms which contain the wage information, NIB cannot accurately determine a person’s insurable wage which is used to calculate the unemployment benefit. These claims may also be deemed ineligible by NIB’s claims system as the person may not have sufficient contributions to meet the requirements without the additional months of C10 data added.”
“NIB is urging all employers who are not up to date with their C10 statements to file them immediately using the MS Excel C10 spreadsheet found on NIB’s website (see Library Tab). This process allows the MS Excel C10s to be uploaded to NIB’s system quickly versus being manually keyed in when paper, handwritten or scanned C10 forms are submitted. Employers, who are able to do so, are encouraged to register with the Employer Self Service portal, via ESS@nib- bahamas.com. The ESS portal allows C10s forms to be automatically uploaded to the system and immediately credited to their employees’ accounts allowing for faster processing and payment of UEB claims.”