Socso says it is here to help as new data reveals torrent of job losses in March

Radzi Razak
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest number of loss of emplyment cases, at 30 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The number of people reporting job losses and seeking aid under Socso’s Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) rose substantially in March as Malaysia confronted the outbreak of Covid-19.

The Star Online reported today that data made available by Socso to it showed loss of employment (LOE) numbers as 4,917 between March 1 and 29, with the highest recorded figure on March 16 with 428 cases before the implementation of movement control order (MCO) on March 18.

Data provided by the national social security organisation showed the next highest LOE was 408 (March 3) and 374 (March 17).

On March 18, the day the first phase of MCO came into force, 207 LOE were reported.

The number of people who reported LOE from January to March this year was nearly three times that for the same period in 2018 and 39 per cent higher for the first three months of last year.

For the month of March alone, the increase was 185 per cent from 2018, and 56 per cent from March 2019.

However, the English daily reported that Socso has introduced various measures to assist EIS applicants return to the job market.

A Socso spokesperson was quoted as saying that as of December 31 last year, nearly 50 per cent of the 40,084 registered EIS applicants in 2019 found employment and measures have been undertaken to actively seek employment for the remaining cases.

Last year, Socso held more than 353 open interview programmes, with 50 to 60 people attending each programme. The programme is open to all categories of job seekers and not just Socso beneficiaries.

“Through EIS and Return to Work Programme, we also have our career counsellors from Socso who will come up with dynamic plans for the EIS applicants with the objective that they find work as soon as possible.

“We also provide training programmes for EIS applicants and they are given allowance to attend the training,” said the spokesperson as reported by The Star Online.

As the Covid-19 crisis hit Malaysia, Socso said the Employment Retention Programme (ERP) as well as Wage Subsidy Programme to avoid retrenchment were the other measures introduced to weather the situation.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced several initiatives through the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus package to help those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, including the RM600 monthly Wage Subsidy Programme for employers.

The Wage Subsidy Programme was effective April 1. It is an extension of the ERP that was announced in the Economic Stimulus Package 2020 on March 16.

“For the Wage Subsidy Programme, for example, we are helping companies, especially SMEs to pay wages for their staff, RM600 per person and the maximum (for a company) is 100 employees.

“But the employers must commit not to reduce their staff, retrench or force the workers to take unpaid leave. This is the commitment they sign up for to retain their workers,” said the spokesperson.

The data from Sosco indicated some 8,620, or 57 per cent, of EIS claimants between January and March this year were employees who earned RM3,000 and below.

The manufacturing industry was the biggest casualty with 25 per cent of LOE reports, followed by wholesale and retail at 19 per cent.

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest number of LOE cases at 30 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

Socso said 59 per cent of those who lost their jobs were those in the professional, manager, executive and technician occupation category.

A total of 61 per cent, or 9,325, of those retrenched were men while 5,890 were women.

On the employer’s side, The Star Online reported that more bosses are filing to retain their workers through Socso’s ERP.

As of April 1, a total of 4,035 bosses have filed ERP applications involving 27,742 affected workers.

Selangor recorded the highest ERP applications from 787 employers involving 5,457 employees.

According to the data by Socso, on March 20, which was a few days after the ERP announcement, some 267 bosses involving 2,298 employees had applied for the ERP.

The numbers fluctuated the following days but there was an increase on March 28 when 501 employers involving 3,545 employees applied for the ERP.

March 31 recorded the highest number of applications with 850 bosses involving 6,210 employees applying for the ERP.

Muhyiddin, who announced the MCO on March 16, had also said on March 25 that this would be extended until April 14.

Under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus package, he announced that a total of RM5.9 billion has been allocated to the Human Resources Ministry through the EIS to implement the programme that will benefit 3.3 million private sector workers.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said under the initiative announced, employers experiencing a fall of income of more than 50 per cent since January 1 this year can claim from Socso.

Employers can claim RM600 per worker for a period of six months.

This is applicable for workers with monthly salaries of RM4,000 and below, who have registered and are contributing to the EIS, according to Saravanan.

The EIS came into effect on January 1, 2018 with two components: employment insurance and employment services.

The former provides temporary financial assistance of up to six months, subject to conditions, while the latter helps beneficiaries in securing employment.

Other than the retrenched, the employment services are open to all types of job seekers, including graduates and school leavers.

The public can reach out to Socso via https://eis.perkeso.gov.my to know more about the EIS.

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