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COVID-19 benefit boost sought

BANGKOK: The Labour Ministry will seek Cabinet approval for a large hike in compensation payments to workers insured under the Social Security Act who have lost their jobs or were suspended from work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul.

COVID-19Coronaviruseconomics
By Bangkok Post

Thursday 7 May 2020, 11:05AM


Thai Red Cross volunteers hand out ’survival bags’ containing daily necessity goods in Phuket Town. The Phuket Chapter of the Thai Red Cross has dedicated B6 million to providing aid to those affected by the COVID situation. Photo: PR Phuket

Thai Red Cross volunteers hand out ’survival bags’ containing daily necessity goods in Phuket Town. The Phuket Chapter of the Thai Red Cross has dedicated B6 million to providing aid to those affected by the COVID situation. Photo: PR Phuket

The compensation will be 75% of their daily wages and is expected to be paid out by the end of this month, MR Chatu Mongol said, adding the compensation period will last until the end of the year.

The current compensation rate amounts to 62% of their daily wage and the maximum compensation period is capped at three months from March to May.

But when the proposed new rate is approved by the Cabinet, it will be retroactive from March, with a difference of 13% to be paid to workers insured under the Social Security Act, the minister said on Wednesday (May 6).

The maximum ceiling of the daily wage which is B500 a day or B15,000 a month is used to calculate the compensation. The current 62% of the B15,000 is B9,300 a month or B27,900 over the three-month period.

Based on that calculation, the new 75% rate will amount to B11,250 a month or B112,500 from March to December.

MR Chatu Mongol also said checks had found that some 100,000 subscribers to the Social Security Fund may be denied compensation payments as they remain employed, though they will be given a chance to appeal within 30 days.

But no online appeal system is available, so they have to submit their appeal in person at the Social Security Office (SSO) or by mail, MR Chatu Mongol said.

He added that he will also ask the Cabinet to consider cutting employers’ contributions to the Social Security Fund from 4% to 1% as a measure to ease their hardship.

MR Chatu Mongol also said the SSO has approved compensation payments worth more than B2.56 billion to 492,273 workers who qualify for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first payment will be made on May 15, he said.

MR Chatu Mongol also said the SSO has issued warnings to businesses which have closed temporarily and have not yet paid salaries to their employees, demanding that they confirm work suspensions for those employees who have applied for unemployment benefits by tomorrow (May 8).

He said 289,104 employees suspended from work due to COVID-19 are waiting for their employers to submit letters of confirmation to the SSO, so the office can pay out unemployment benefits to workers.

UWC Thailand

MR Chatu Mongol denied rumours the SSO does not have enough funds to pay the workers, saying it has a sizeable amount which has been collected for more than 34 years.

Meanwhile, Anant Suwannarat, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, said 8.3 million farmers will be entitled to the first batch of B5,000 cash handouts for three months.

Details of the applicants will be sent to the Finance Ministry for examination to make sure they are not the same as those who have received other relief benefits from the government, said Mr Anant.

After verification, the Finance Ministry will transfer the financial assistance into the farmers’ bank accounts from this month until July, Mr Anant said, adding farmers who have not yet applied for farmers’ registration or never updated their registration must do so by May 15.

Poramethi Wimonsiri, permanent secretary for the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, said the ministry has increased allowances for the disabled from B800 to B1,000 in line with a recent Cabinet resolution.

The ministry has also drawn money from the Fund for Promotion and Development of Life Quality of Disabled Persons to provide financial aid to more than 2 million disabled people, who will receive B1,000 each.

Meanwhile, Sakchai Kanchanawattana, secretary-general of the National Health Security Office, said the NHSO board chaired by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has agreed to include the treatment of COVID-19 patients as a welfare benefit under the Health Security Fund.

A budget of B4.28 billion has been set aside to that end.

That budget is separate from funds earmarked for the Universal Healthcare Coverage scheme, widely known as the B30 gold card scheme.

The COVID-10 benefit scheme covers screening and treatment of patients who are holders of the B30 gold cards.

As of April 30, public health service units handling COVID-19 patients nationwide have requested funding worth B143.9mn from the NHSO.

Of that amount, B119mn will be spent on screening and lab tests, while B24.7mn will go toward treatment of COVID-19 patients, Dr Sakchai said.

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