Compo boost for jobless riles SSO
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Compo boost for jobless riles SSO

Passes pay hike buck to fund, critics say

The board of the Social Security Office (SSO) has voiced disagreement with the Labour Ministry's plan to raise compensation payments to workers insured under the Social Security Act who lost their jobs or were furloughed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tawee Deeying, an employees' representative on the SSO board, said the board stands by its March 24 decision that compensation for workers affected by Covid-19 outbreak is 50% of their wages capped at 15,000 baht a month for a period of two months.

The Labour Ministry, however, decided to raise the compensation payment from 50% to 62%, covering a period of three months. That proposal was approved by the cabinet.

Now, in a new development which would bring about a further boost, Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul on Wednesday said he would ask the cabinet to approve the compensation payout of 75% of daily wages. If approved it will be retroactive from March.

The proposal drew objections from labour activists who already disagreed with the 62% payment as they saw it as a way for the government to pass the buck to the Social Security Fund (SSF).

The maximum ceiling of the daily wage -- 500 baht a day or 15,000 baht a month -- is used to calculate the compensation. The current rate of 62% comes to 9,300 baht a month. Based on that calculation, the new 75% rate will total 11,250 baht a month.

Mr Tawee said the board stood by the March decision and expressed concerns that the Labour Ministry might not see eye to eye with it. The SSF has grown to 2.2 trillion baht on the back of what it calls successful financial management. The minister's plan to up it further has yet to be approved by cabinet. Suthi Sukosol, labour permanent secretary, said the input from various sectors would be submitted to the minister.

A source on the SSO board who asked not to be named said the board had agreed with a sub-committee's proposal to classify the Covid-19 pandemic as a "force majeure" under Section 75 of the Labour Protection Act, allowing employees to seek a proportion of their salaries from the SSF.

But the panel settled on 50% compensation for 60 days for those whose jobs were suspended due to the outbreak. This was because they did not lose their jobs, while the 160 billion baht fund was allocated to help those who had become unemployed, according to the source. The source added one of the labour specialists had told the board the government might have to pay the difference to the SSF if it granted more than the board.

Panas Thailuan, president of the Confederation of Thailand Labour, yesterday called on the minister to review his proposed hike, saying the 75% payout comes at the expense of the SSF, citing Section 75 of the labour law.

Under Section 75, when a company must temporarily suspend part or all of its business operations in the face of financial hardship, it must pay employees 75% of their regular daily wages during this period.

He said some businesses decided to temporarily close during the period but were still paying employees 75% of their wages. But the latest proposal from the ministry would unfairly pass that burden to the SSF which has to take care of all contributing employees, not only those who lost their jobs or were furloughed.

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