THE Social Security Commission (SSC) will subsidise the payment of wages for the formal sector for a period of three months to offset the avalanche of retrenchments expected in different sectors of industry due the ceasing of face to face business on the back of the coronavirus outbreak in Namibia.
The wage subsidy, which is a collaborative stimulus package between the Ministry of Finance and SSC is estimated to cost a total N$700 million and will be disbursed to the most hard hit industries in the formal sector on several conditions.
This was revealed at a sectorial press briefing which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the Labour and Employment situation in Namibia, with panellist Utoni Nujoma, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment creation, Advocate Vicky ya Toivo, Special Advisor to the Minister of Labour and Milka Mungunda, CEO of the SSC.
Mungunda stated that the SSC has identified 9 sectors which are especially hard-hit by the outbreak of COVID-19.
They are Construction, Tourism, Transport, Domestic Workers, Manufacturing, Retail and Services, and Farming and Entertainment sectors.
She added that as such, the commission will offer formal employers in severely impacted sectors a wage subsidy with conditions that they do not retrench their employees for the next 3 months – April, May and June – as well as not reduce their staff salaries by more than 50%.
Advocate Vicky ya Toivo, also touching on the subject of job losses, stated that during the lockdown, it is illegal for an employer to retrench or dismiss their employees according to the labour act’s directives on the health of workers.
She added that the ministry has also set forth directives that employers may not send workers home on annual or sickleave without pay.
“Any employers who dismissed their employees during the current lockdown is in violation of the law. Employers are only allowed to consider retrenchment options after 28 days of the lockdown period,” ya Toivo added.
Minister of Labour Utoni Nujoma reflected that Namibia’s labour market has been in turmoil since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“A lot of job losses have been experienced worldwide, we have engaged in social dialogue with unions and employers for advice on directives. During this difficult time, we must hold hands.,” Nujoma stated.
He further advised those who may have been retrenched or sent home without remuneration during the lockdown period to seek help from labour inspectors.