SBWS program to provide wage subsidy for formal sector workers affected by ECQ

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - Correspondent/CDN Digital | April 29,2020 - 01:29 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Here’s good news for formal sector workers who were unable to avail of the one-time cash assistance under the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

While the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) could no longer accommodate CAMP applications due to limited resources, other government agencies can, DOLE-7 regional director Salome Siaton said in an emailed press release.

“We are helping the Department of Finance, the Social Security System, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue disseminate information regarding the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program,” Siaton said.

“At the same time, we are trying to extend assistance to our valued clients by way of letting them know that after our CAMP resources have been depleted, there are still other government agencies, which could also come to their rescue,” she added.

Those who have not availed of CAMP’s one-time P5,000 cash assistance for the workers in the formal sector could qualify for DOF’s SBWS program.

Just like the CAMP, the SBWS program would involve the employers completing the application online on behalf of their employees, Siaton said.

The qualified employers have until May 8, 2020 to submit applications for the program on behalf of their employees to the SSS. The SSS has temporarily dedicated its website for applications to the SBWS program.

The program would enable small businesses to retain their workers during the quarantine period, Siaton said.

Salome Siaton, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas. | File Photo

“The national government is providing a wage subsidy program for affected employees of small businesses to help mitigate the impact of the quarantine period. Clients of DOLE may also avail of said program. This is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of,” she noted.

The SBWS program, implemented through the SSS, provides a monthly wage subsidy of between P5,000 to P8,000 for each eligible employee, who were unable to work and did not get paid during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

For Central Visayas, the salary subsidy amount per qualified employee is P6,000 per month.

“Businesses that have been compliant with the regulations of the BIR and SSS will be prioritized,” Siaton said.

To qualify for the SWBS program, businesses such as corporations, partnerships or sole proprietorship should not appear in the BIR Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.

Businesses that could apply for wage subsidy are those under Category A or non-essentials had to stop operations such as temporary closure or suspension of work due to the ECQ and those under Category B or quasi-essentials were allowed to operate with a skeleton force.

The following employees are eligible under SBWS program:

  •  Must be an employee of an eligible small business;
  • Must be employed and active as of March 1, 2020 but unable to work due to the ECQ;
  • Did not get paid by their employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020;
  • Can be of any contract status (e.g., regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, fixed-term);
  • Must be certified by the employer in the application as having met all the above criteria;

Based on the guidelines, employees who have already received CAMP assistance of P5,000 could still receive support under the SBWS, if they are eligible.

They will first receive one full tranche of P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the region of work, from May 1 to 15. For the second tranche, they will get the difference (subsidy minus the 5,000 they already received) and will therefore receive the same total amount in subsidy as non-CAMP beneficiaries.

Employer-applicants will have to go to the SSS portal at www.sss.gov.ph and log-in to their My.SSS account. Details of the SBWS can also be accessed at https://www.bir.gov.ph/index.php/small-business-wage-subsidy-sbws-program.html. /dcb

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TAGS: camp, COVID-19, DOLE, one-tine cash assistance, Siaton, Small Business Wage Subsidy, SSS

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