Job losses surged in March, but all is not lost

  • Nation
  • Friday, 03 Apr 2020

PETALING JAYA: The number of people reporting loss of jobs and seeking aid under Socso's Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) has risen substantially in March even before the movement control order (MCO) to contain spread of Covid-19 was implemented.

According to data made available by Socso to The Star, the number loss of employment (LOE) was 4,917 between March 1 and 29. The highest recorded was on March 16 with 428 cases.

However, all is not lost.

Socso has put in place various measures to assist the EIS applicants in order for them to return to the job market.

Data provided by the 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, there were 207 LOE reported.

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

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

A Socso spokesperson said as of Dec 31 last year, nearly 50% of the 40,084 registered EIS applicants in 2019 found employment and measures were undertaken to actively seek employment for the remaining cases.

Last year, Socso has 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.

With the Covid-19 crisis, Socso said the Employment Retention Programme (ERP) as well as the 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 was 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.

Other measures included helping university students to assist them secure employment before they graduate.

Among the measures done include appointing ambassadors in 21 public higher learning institutions to help graduates look for employment via a new job portal using technology from the Netherlands.

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

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

Selangor and the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory recorded the highest cases of loss of employment with 30% and 25% respectively.

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

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

From January to March 29 this year, Socso received 15,257 LOE.

It received a total of 40,084 cases in 2019 and 23,697 in 2018.

However, despite the gloomy economic scenario, there are some employers who are keen on retaining 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, a few days after the ERP announcement showed that 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 application 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,Muhyiddin had announced a total of RM5.9bil 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% since Jan 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 Jan 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 is open to all types of job seekers, including graduates and school leavers.

The public can reach out to Socso via to know more about the EIS.
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