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

In an advisory on Friday (April 24), the Department of Finance (DOF) said that the deadline to apply for the small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program was extended from the original April 30 cut-off date.

Applications for the P5,000-P8,000 per month wage subsidy, which is good for two months, started last April 16 and was aimed at giving relief to 3.4 million individuals employed by MSMEs.

The SSS website was not working since Friday last week, and despite an earlier commitment by the state-run pension fund’s top officials to fix the problem in just a couple of days.

“Eligible employers may use one of two methods to apply for the program on behalf of their employees: first, for SBWS-eligible employers whose e-mail addresses are on file with the SSS, kindly check your e-mails for instructions on the application via a secure link,” the DOF said.

Second, “if you are an SBWS-eligible employer and have not yet received an e-mail, please proceed with the regular application process via your My.SSS account,” the DOF added.

The SSS’s 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 (April 21), the SSS reported to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that it had “completed sending e-mails 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 themselves of the SBWS.

As early as last Saturday (April 18), Dominguez, who chairs the Social Security Commission (SSC), was assured by president and chief executive Aurora C. 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 the SSS “didn’t expect Dole [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 that already availed themselves of Camp can only receive one-month worth of subsidies to avoid duplication, while everyone else that qualified will be covered for two months.

The SSS had also announced that it was supposed to launch a nationwide calamity loan assistance program for members grappling with 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.

Edited by TSB


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