Payments made to 1,142 laid-off workers
More than 1,100 people have been given emergency unemployment payments after they were laid off work because of the coronavirus crisis.
Lovitta Foggo, the labour minister, said 1,142 applicants were given payments yesterday and another 400 applications should be processed today.
Ms Foggo added: “Our ministry is working tirelessly to assist the many people that have found themselves displaced and their financial future uncertain due to this pandemic, beginning with the Covid-19 unemployment benefit, administered through the Department of Workforce Development.
She added that the Government was pleased to be able to do its part to assist people thrown out of work to “meet their obligations and provide for their families during these challenging times”.
The benefit — worth up to $500 a week — was designed for people who are not on financial assistance and will last for up to 12 weeks.
Ms Foggo said anyone who wanted to apply should do so online or by phone to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
She added: “The Department of Workforce Development has put together a team of employees to work on this project and are working in conjunction with the Accountant-General's Department to get the payments out.
“The department is also working with the larger employers who have laid off large numbers of staff to streamline the application process for their employees.
“Staff review the submitted applications to ensure that the applicant is eligible and they are approving and processing payments for those that qualify.”
Ms Foggo said: “I appreciate how important the benefit is to people who are out of work and we are working diligently to get these payments to you as soon as we can.”
She added that the benefits procedure had been put together from scratch in only two weeks and thanked Olu Bademosi, the Acting Director of Workforce Development and his team for their hard work.
To get the benefit, candidates must meet the definition of an employee under the Employment Act.
They also must be one of the following:
• Have Bermuda status
• Spouse of a Bermuda status holder
• Permanent resident under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act
• Valid work-permit holder with proof that they were prevented at the time of the application from leaving Bermuda because of Covid-19 travel restrictions
Candidates must also have been in full-time employment, but, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, were:
• Laid off from work
• Terminated from employment
• Retained as an employee, but under substantially reduced hours
• Subject to mandatory quarantine or isolation without compensation
Self-employed applicants must be registered with the Office of the Tax Commissioner and be without income or had their income substantially reduced.
Ms Foggo said the labour relations section had continued to answer questions from employers and employees on a remote basis to ensure they were aware of their rights and obligations.
Ms Foggo added: “To assist, we have put on the front page of the government website, as well as on the Bermuda Job Board, a link which provides further information for employees and also a form for them to submit a complaint if they believe an employer is acting in contravention of the Employment Act 2000.
She told workers: “I encourage employees to use these resources, understand your rights under the Employment Act 2000 and seek advice and assistance from the labour relations team as needed.”