Millions expected to claim benefit help

Millions expected to claim benefit help

Up to four million formal workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to apply for unemployment benefits, says the Social Security Office.

Spokeswoman Pitsamai Nithipaiboon said 1.2 million formal workers had registered for unemployment benefits as of Tuesday, and 500,000 had been examined and verified. Ms Pitsamai said the office anticipates the number of applicants to soar to between 3 million-4 million if the Covid-19 situation worsens.

A total of 11 million workers are insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act, while about two million do not qualify for unemployment benefits because they have been contributing to the social security fund for less than six months, she said. The rate for formal workers amounts to 62% of daily wages and the maximum compensation period is capped at 90 days. About 8,000 jobless workers received their first payment on Monday.

Ms Pitsamai said that while unemployment benefits during the Covid-19 pandemic can be handed out for up to six months, the SSO will stop making payments when workers are able to return to work. "This is not a one-time payment," she said. "The compensation is paid monthly.

"If workers go back to work, they no longer qualify for payments," Ms Pitsamai said, adding migrant workers insured under Section 33 and meeting the requirements are eligible to receive the benefits.

She said the fund stands at about 160 billion baht, enough to cover job-loss claims though the SSO recently asked the Council of State for extra money. "The request was made as a precaution," Ms Pitsamai said. Asked about criticism by unions that the government is passing welfare responsibilities to the SSO during the shutdown, she said the decision was made by employers, employees and the government.

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