A deep unemployment crisis triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown has led to record jobless benefits payouts with three years of claims in four months, according to the National Insurance Scheme.
NIS paid $70.6 million to approximately 29,000 claimants for unemployment benefits, said acting Director Jennifer Hunte.
She revealed: “During the period March 23, 2020 to July 31, 2020, the National Insurance Department received 60,623 termination certificates and paid $70.6 million to 28,950 unemployment benefit claimants.
“We also have to take into consideration that some claimants received multiple termination certificates. These would represent various extensions of the expected dates to resume work as indicated by their employers.”
On average, about 11,000 unemployment claims per year have been made over the last three years.
Hunte also explained that there were still several people who had not received unemployment benefits for various reasons. Some did not have the required number of contributions, had not worked for 52 weeks, or did not complete the required declaration forms
Others had exhausted their eligibility, or their forms contained limited or inaccurate information, or had incorrectly completed their earnings schedules.
National Insurance has also been inundated with telephone calls, a matter which the acting Director said is being addressed.
Hunte said: “We are very aware that many of you have been frustrated that you have not been able to reach us as easily as you would have liked due to unprecedented call volumes and for this we sincerely apologise.
“Please be assured that we continue to process your unemployment benefits as well as the other benefit types including payment to over 40,000 pensioners. We have been working on ways that you can reach us faster and will be making some improvements to facilitate such.” ( BT/PR)
She advised people to contact the NIS at the additional contact numbers and e-mail addresses posted on its website and social media pages.
She said: “Please ensure that you put your e-mail address and telephone numbers on your termination certificate so that we can contact you quickly if necessary.
“We do apologise for any inconvenience caused to you our valued customers and we thank you for your continued patience and co-operation as we work together to ensure your remaining benefits are paid as quickly as possible.”
The acting Director showered praise on the NIS for working to make the benefits payouts amid the mountain of claims.
She said: “The board, management and staff are committed to ensuring that all qualified claimants receive their benefits. While to date we were able to facilitate the payment of unemployment benefits to a large number of claimants, we are working assiduously to ensure that all remaining qualifying unemployment claims are paid.”