The Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) has written to the National Insurance Corporation (NIC), expressing concern over a move to pay sickness benefits into the bank accounts of contributors.
The September 23, 2020, letter to the NIC’s Customer Service Manager -Mrs. Gisele Mondesir – St Marthe is reproduced below:
September 23, 2020
Mrs. Gisele Mondesir – St Marthe
Customer Service Manager
National Insurance Corporation
Francis Compton Building
Dear Mrs. Mondesir – St. Marthe,
Reference to letter dated September 7th, 2020 regarding the payment of sickness benefit into bank accounts of contributors, the St Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) is very concerned about the impact of such a decision on workers in the Country.
The National Insurance Corporation (NIC) pays 65% percent of the worker’s average insurable earnings while employers pay 35% for the period of sick leave. In most instances employees who qualify for sickness benefit do not receive 100% of their salary based on NIC computations. The NIC also does not pay those benefits in line with the employees’ paydays and therefore leaves employees at the mercies of their creditors.
The decision to pay NIC contributors at their respective banks, in our view, failed to address a major concern of employers who see merit in paying their employees in full, which allows employees to continue to receive income while they await the NIC payments.
Employers have been practicing, for all good reasons, the payment of employees’ salaries in full on condition that their sickness benefit would be assigned to the employer (which by the way represents a repayment of advance income). The question that now arises is: what happens to that arrangement given that employers have no jurisdiction in their employees’ bank accounts?
Employers are now left with the options of either taking a decision to continue to pay and think of innovative ways to recoup their monies or to pay only the 35% of salary to the employees leaving them to fend for themselves and their livelihoods until such time that they are in receipt of the 65% of their salary from the NIC.
We strongly believe that this decision is unconscionable and should be revisited with the view of getting a more effective, efficient and contributor friendly way of managing the payment of sickness benefits.
Is it that NIC is saying that they do not care about employees’ welfare in this country and that their obligation is only to pay the benefits accrued to contributors! If the answer is yes then the obvious is known, in terms of concern for workers welfare in this country.
Let us not put blame Covid-19 for every action that we take. Instead, let us carefully analyze situations in order to find mutually beneficial solutions to matters relating to workers welfare and the NIC.
The CSA urges the NIC to reconsider this decision and ask that they engage in meaningful dialogue that would bring about improvements in the administration of the short term benefits that would better the lives of workers in this country.
ST. LUCIA CIVIL SERVICE ASSOCIATION
Cc: Mr. Matthew L. Mathurin, Director – NIC