With the government cash-strapped, they admitted that they’re not able to support everyone 100% amidst the crisis. In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte said that there are not enough government funds for this.
In addition to that, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also recently announced that their COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will be suspended; and this is due to the volume of applicants.
To remedy this, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced that there will be a small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program. This will be rolled out and dispersed through the Social Security System (SSS).
Is the SBWS the same as CAMP?
For clarification purposes, CAMP is different from SBWS. They are two (2) separate programs which have the same aim — to provide cash and financial assistance to workers.
Though both of them are from P5,000 to P8,000, they’re different. However, if an employee was able to get the assistance from DOLE’s CAMP; they shall only be eligible for one (1) month of the SBWS.
Eligibility criteria for employees
For employees, there are criteria for their eligibility to the SBWS. These are the following:
- Must be employed and active as of March 1st, 2020; must be unable to work due to the ECQ
- Should be an employee of an eligible small business
- Must be certified to meet all the above criteria
- Any status is accepted:
- Was not able to get paid by employer for at least two (2) weeks during the work suspension or temporary closure. This is in accordance to DOLE Advisory No. 1, s. of 2020
PRIORITY – The priority would be provided to SSS-registered and BIR-registered employees that are compliant with both BIR and SSS regulations.
Employees that are not eligible or disqualified
- Those part of the skeletal force or work from home (WFH)
- Have received unemployment benefits from the SSS to avoid duplication
- Employees that processes SSS final claims
- During the ECQ, worker is on leave (with or without pay)
Those are the eligibility criteria for employees; here are the criteria for small businesses.
Eligibility of the Small Business Wage Subsidy Program
Of course, being eligible or qualified for this program has certain criteria. Before a business applies, here are the following things that the government would look at.
One of the things that is deemed to be the most important is that the small business, regardless of its type (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, must not be in the Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list of the BIR.
Checking through BIR
Small business owners can check it in the BIR website at https://bir.gov.ph and click on the SBWS icon. Afterwards, the employer would enter their Tax Identification Number (TIN) which is usually nine (9) digits long in the search field of the SBWS.
Hit on Search and they’ll see if they are qualified for the SBWS program. If a business is qualified, they’ll see a green prompt in their screens. Along with that, a passcode from BIR would appear on the screen; that’s what they need to copy for their application through the SSS.
Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) Impact
For Category A
Category A businesses are non-essential businesses forced to stop operations.
- Hotels and Restaurants
- Non-food raw materials and non-essential manufacturing
- Non-essential service
- Rental and leasing of personal goods
For Category B
On the other hand, category B are businesses that are quasi-essential; those allowed to operate as a skeleton force. If their were not able to get salaries due to the ECQ.
- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
- Electronics Manufacturing
- Personal Service and Domestic Activities:
- Domestic Help
- Among others
- Public Transportation and/or trucking and cargo handling (both non-food and food)
Moreover, employers in certain areas where Local Government Units (LGUs) placed some form of quarantine or containment can also qualify for the SBWS. With this, you’d have to check with your barangay to know more about the containment plan you had.
What the priority of the SBWS will be?
As per the agency, the priority for the small business wage subsidy program would be those that have been compliant with both SSS and BIR regulations:
- SSS-registered and those that have paid SSS contributions for the past three (3) years up until January 2020; and
- BIR-registered complying with tax obligations during the past three (3) years; until January 2020
Conditions for the SBWS
Certain conditions have been set and as per the document; the small businesses need to maintain the employment status of all employee beneficiaries of eligibility before the ECQ; this shall be cross-checked during the evaluation and the monitoring stage.
Automatic refund of the SBWS would happen when employers are deemed non-compliant. To add to that, for employees; they should not resign during the ECQ period.
How much subsidy would beneficiaries get?
The amount is determined per region and as per the document, here’s how it will go down:
- National Capital Region (NCR – P8,000
- Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – P5,500
- I – P5,500
- II – P5,500
- III – P8,000
- IV-A – P8,000
- IV-B – P5,000
- V – P5,000
- VI – P6,000
- VII – P6,000
- VIII – P5,000
- IX – P5,000
- X – P6,000
- XI – P6,000
- XII – P5,000
- CARAGA – P5,000
- Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) – P5,000
Procedure in applying for the small business wage subsidy program through the SSS
Upon application, applicants or employers need to have an account with the My.SSS or the online portal offered by the agency. That’s one of the first few things they should know and they should do.
When you were able to check the LTS, applicants should go to the SSS website at https://www.sss.goov.ph and log-in to My.SSS account. From there, follow these instructions:
- When logged-in the employer can hit on the tab that says Small Business Wage Subsidy.
- Type-in or copy the passcode from BIR and the TIN. Hit on Proceed
- When inside, the employer will then find a list of their employees. From there, the employer will choose employees that are eligible by ticking the box in-line with the employee’s name; in addition, the employer should tick the right side box to determine those who received CAMP from DOLE.
- From here, the employer would need to type in the TINs of their employees.
- To finalize everything on the online portal, the employer must read the Undertaking information and hit on “I Agree” if they do.
- A Certification Attesting to the Work and Pay Status of Employee to the [email protected] shall be submitted upon application completion.
- Following that, the employer must click on the “Employer Certification Template” to be able to download the document.
- Employees that would be accepted would receive an email notification from the SSS that their employers confirmed their qualification.
The SSS automated system will validate the following:
- If an employee has no pending or has not received any SSS unemployment benefit due to COVID-19
- An employee who is not a DOLE CAMP beneficiary; and
- If an employee has no settled or in-process SSS final claims such as funeral, retirement, death, and total disability
The SSS system will show to the employer if an employee/s is qualified or disqualified as well as the reasons for the confirmation or denial for the wage subsidy program. Lastly, the SSS will also notify employers that their qualified employees are “for confirmation” because of lacking credentials such as:
- The employee is not registered in the My.SSS portal
- The employee has no bank account or has no registered bank account in the My.SSS account
Modes of payment
The following would be the modes of payment for the dispersion of the funds to the employees should they be qualified.
- Cash pick-up arrangement through remittance companies
- E-wallet like PayMaya, GCash, etc.
- Through SSS UMID Cards that are enrolled as ATMs
- Employee’s bank account for PESOnet bank affiliations
- Union Bank Quick Card (SSS partnership)
There’s a way on how businesses can be aware whether or not they’re eligible. As a matter of fact, they can send an email inquiry to the BIR. The message should contain the following information and it needs to be sent to [email protected]:
- Registered Name or Business Name
- Revenue District Office (RDO); where the business is registered
- Message to the BIR
On the other hand, if you have questions with SSS, you have several options in contacting them:
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: FB.com/SSSPh
- Website: https://www.sss.gov.ph
- Call Center: 1455 Toll Free: 1-800-10-2255777
With the small business wage subsidy program, small business employees can get the chance to get financial assistance they need to cope with their inability to work during the ECQ. Do note, though, that if an employee already got the assistance from DOLE’s CAMP, there are conditions upon them receiving the SBWS.
What do you think about the small business wage subsidy program? Could it be seen as an effective way of helping and assisting formal sector workers? With DOLE’s CAMP application suspended, this would be some sort of compensation for that occurrence.
Source/s: GMA Network