Social insurance sector joins Government’s social security efforts against COVID-19

Thursday, 2020-04-02 10:08:44
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A representative from Da Nang City’s Labour Confederation presents gifts to its labour union members and employees who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 in Hai Chau District, March 20, 2020. (Photo: NDO/Thanh Tam)
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NDO – Deputy Director General Tran Dinh Lieu of the Vietnam Social Security (VSS) has granted Nhan Dan Newspaper an interview regarding the removal of difficulties for businesses and ensuring social insurance benefits for employees amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Q: The Prime Minister has issued Directive No. 11/CT-TTg on urgent tasks and solutions to remove difficulties for business and production, as well as ensuring social security in coping with COVID-19, in which the VSS was assigned to consider suspending social insurance payments for affected businesses for six to twelve months. Could you tell more about the VSS’s implementation regarding this directive?

A: The VSS has issued Document No. 860/BHXH-BT, dated March 17, 2020, guiding local social security agencies to suspend payment of social insurance premiums into the retirement and survivorship funds for enterprises affected by COVID-19, including those operating in passenger transport, tourism, accommodation, restaurants and other special industries encountering difficulties caused by the epidemic, forcing them to be unable to arrange jobs for their labourers.

The VSS also requires the local social security authorities to immediately handle the application for temporary suspension of contribution to the retirement and survivorship funds until June 2020 when receiving enterprises’ dossiers, without applying interest rates. In the case that the COVID-19 epidemic has not decreased by the end of June 2020, local authorities can send suggestion to the VSS to consider expanding the suspension of contribution to the retirement and survivorship funds until December 2020 if they receive requests from enterprises.

During the suspension, no specialised inspection regarding payment or inspection of the compliance with the regulations on social insurance and health insurance will be carried out to enterprises affected by COVID-19 if they show no signs of violation. At the same time, VSS and its local affiliates also urged enterprises to fully and promptly contribute to the funds covering sickness, maternity, labour accident - occupational disease, health insurance and unemployment insurance to ensure employees’ benefits. The local social insurance authorities also regularly monitor and supervise the temporary suspension of contribution to retirement and survivorship funds in accordance with the regulations in order to promptly remove difficulties for enterprises.

Q: What does the local social security body have to do to implement this guideline effectively?

A: In order to effectively implement the aforementioned guidance, the social security sector needs to closely coordinate with the Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs agencies and the finance sector, and especially with the role of local governments, thereby ensuring uniformity and consistency in the implementation process towards creating favourable conditions for businesses and shortening the time needed to carry out procedures.

Vietnam Social Security Deputy Director General Tran Dinh Lieu. (Photo: NDO/Anh Thu)

The VSS will work closely with localities to follow up the situation at the enterprise. If there is a decrease in labour force due to the epidemic, local social security agencies must promptly advise the provincial People's Committee to stop letting them contribute to the retirement and survivorship funds. However, contributions to the short-term regimes must still be paid in full to ensure benefits for the workers. This is a support mechanism in accordance with the law and also helps businesses retain the number of employees and use that capital to deal with immediate difficulties. To do this well, it requires the directors of local social security agencies to closely follow the situation in their localities as well as the enterprises, thereby proactively creating inter-sectoral cooperation to assess the situation of each affected industry and producing the correct policies to ensure the legitimate interests of enterprises and employees.

Q: Ensuring social security is also an important requirement emphasised in Directive No. 11. As an agency tasked with organising the policy implementation, how has the VSS been realising it?

A: We all know that the nature of social security is the guarantee to replace or offset a part of employees' income in case of unfortunate risks. In the context that businesses as well as workers are facing many difficulties due to the impact of COVID-19, the social security and health insurance policies should be well implemented, thereby proving their practical effectiveness in ensuring social security.

Accordingly, the VSS has sent a dispatch to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health on settling the social insurance regime for employees who are required to undergo medical isolation against COVID-19. Those who are isolated under decisions of competent agencies are entitled to the prescribed sickness regime during their medical isolation. In case of isolation at local facilities (outside private homes), the facility that is carrying out medical isolation is responsible for granting the isolation certificate to the person who is subject to isolation measures as a basis to let them enjoy the regimes prescribed by the Labour Code, the Law on Social Insurance and other relevant guiding documents. In the case of home isolation, the VSS has agreed to let the health stations in the commune, ward or township levels where the employees reside grant them a leave-off certificate to serve as a basis for settling the sickness regime as prescribed.

Previously, the VSS also sent a written directive urging relevant authorities to create the most favourable conditions for patients with health insurance cards to timely examine, treat or transfer to other medical establishments when suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus. The VSS has directed the provincial social security agencies to conduct the inspection and payment of expenses of medical examination and treatment subject to the health insurance policy in accordance with the provisions of the Health Insurance Law and current guiding documents. We also requested local social insurance authorities to immediately grant advances to medical examination and treatment establishments to ensure their continued operation. The funding for medical examination and treatment under the health insurance policy in the first quarter of 2020 has been fully provided by the VSS, especially the funding for the social insurance of provinces and cities where patients are found infected or suspected of being infected with coronavirus.

At the same time, for labourers who have lost their jobs due to the impact of the epidemic, the social insurance authorities of provinces and cities will work closely with the Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs agencies to settle procedures and ensure unemployment insurance benefits for them. This is a source of funding to support them to overcome the immediate difficulties.

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