The Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports the Hon. Lovitta Foggo provided a series of phone numbers to assist those who are applying for the Government's Unemployment Benefit.
Minister Foggo said, “We have received considerable feedback regarding the Unemployment Benefit. And we want this process to be as seamless and efficient as possible. We understand the financial hardships being faced by those who are unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19.
“We want to ensure that those who qualify have the benefit of this financial safety net. Last week, I announced that we've already started making payments to individuals who have met the criteria.
“So I encourage those who need direct assistance with the online Unemployment Benefit application to call any of the following numbers:
“The ‘707’ numbers can be contacted via the WhatsApp messaging service. We are a compassionate and caring Government, and we are committed to assisting where we can. I encourage residents to use our resources to help them navigate through these challenging times.”
The Ministry of Finance is working closely with the Department of Workforce Development and local banks to ensure that the funds are available for unemployment benefits. Government is utilising Section 10B of the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act 1969 which established the Unemployment Insurance Fund in 2002.
This legislation provides the authority for the Minister of Finance to make payments out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund for the purpose of assisting unemployed persons.
As a reminder the COVID – 19 Unemployment Benefit is for eligible employees not currently on Financial Assistance and provides a payment of 60% of their weekly gross salary up to a maximum of $500 per week.
The benefit is for a maximum of 12 weeks in total per employee from the date of application.
Those employees eligible for the proposed unemployment benefit must meet the definition of an employee under the Employment Act 2000 and either:
- possesses Bermudian status; or
- be the spouse of a person who possesses Bermudian status; or
- must be a permanent resident as provided for in section 23 of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956; or
- have a valid work permit as defined in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 and can show that they were prevented at the time of the application, due to travel restrictions directly related to COVID-19, from departing Bermuda.
Who were in full time employment and owing to the COVID-19 - either:
- were laid off from work; or
- they are self-employed, and without income or their income has been substantially reduced, and is registered with the Office of the Tax Commissioner; or
- their employment has been terminated; or
- is engaged as an employee, but is for the time being working substantially reduced hours; or
- s subject to mandatory quarantine or isolation, without compensation.