The government has given micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) more time or until May 8 to apply for their workers’ wage subsidies as the Social Security System (SSS) website, where they needed to file applications, wasn’t wor­king for one week now.

In an advisory on Friday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said the deadline to apply for small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program was extended from the original April 30 cutoff date.

Applications for the P5,000-P8,000 a month wage subsidy to be given away for two months started on April 16, aimed to benefit 3.4 million individuals employed by MSMEs.

The SSS website was not working since Friday last week.

Two methods

“Eligible employers may use one of two methods to apply for the program on behalf of their employees: First, for SBWS-eligible employers whose email addresses are on file with the SSS, they can check their emails for instructions on the application via a secure link,” the DOF said.

Second, if SBWS-eligible employers have not yet received an email, they may proceed with the regular application process via their My.SSS account, the DOF added.

The SSS’ home page—still more often than not inaccessible—on Friday posted an advisory saying that the pension fund “temporarily dedicated the SSS website for employers to apply for the SBWS program on behalf of their employees, but not yet for employees to update their My.SSS account.”

“For employees who need to create a My.SSS account or update their bank accounts, PayMaya accounts or mobile numbers on My.SSS, we will update you as soon as these functions are back online,” it said.

“We are working on getting all other services relative to employer and employee membership, contributions, benefit and loan applications and payments back online as soon as possible as well,” it added.

Last Tuesday, the SSS reported to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that it had “completed sending emails to 114,000 employers and they will access the Microsoft cloud” containing links to documents that both employers and employees needed to fill out to avail of the SBWS.

As early as last Saturday, Dominguez, who chairs the Social Security Commission (SSC), was assured by president and chief executive Aurora Ignacio that the SSS was working round-the-clock to fix the website, which had been unable to handle the huge traffic generated by the SBWS program.

Ignacio had told Dominguez that they “didn’t expect [the Department of Labor and Employment’s] CAMP (COVID-19 adjustment measures program)to abruptly end—that also increased the volume of SSS website visitors and wage subsidy applicants.”

Under the SBWS program, beneficiaries who have availed themselves of CAMP can only receive one-month worth of subsidies to avoid duplication, while everyone else who qualified will be covered for two months.

The SSS also announced it was supposed to launch a nationwide calamity loan assistance program for members grappling with new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on April 24, with applications to be accep­ted through the SSS website or its mobile app as members can file using their My.SSS account.

But with its website still down, the SSS was unable to jumpstart calamity loan applications.

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