A private sector employee preparing a contactless pick up order for a customer.

The government will provide financial assistance to locals in the private sector whose income or employment has been affected by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic from September to November 2021.

The assistance is for citizens and permanent residents in the private sector earning less than $1,500 monthly and excludes those working for government-linked or owned companies. There are three eligible groups, all of whom must show that their income or employment has been affected by the second wave.

Announcing the measures last Saturday at the COVID-19 press conference, the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) said applications should be made through the National Welfare System’s (SKN) website skn.gov.bn.

Below are a summary of the groups eligible and the aid provided:

Employees who’ve lost their jobs

Those laid off due to the pandemic and not because of disciplinary actions or resignation are entitled to $250-a-month with an additional $50 for up to four dependents, children or spouses, who are currently not receiving government welfare.

As part of their submission documents, applicants will need a letter from their former employer stating that their employment was terminated due the economic impact of COVID-19.

Applicants should have active TAP contributions up until July 2021.

Employees put on unpaid leave

Employers who have required their staff to take unpaid leave for more than seven days can obtain salary subsidy of 30% for three months following the restarting of the employees’ work.

Applicable reasons for putting staff on unpaid leave include financial difficulties caused by the pandemic as well as public health regulations on operations and staff having to serve quarantine orders.

Applicants should have active TAP contributions up until July 2021.

Freelancers and the self-employed

Freelancers and the self-employed can apply for the Monthly Welfare Assistance (BKB) from the Department of Community Development (JAPEM) under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through the SKN portal.

Those under this category that were previously earning more than $1,500 a month but are currently required to cease operations completely, such as barbers and gym trainers, can also apply under this category, said the Second Finance Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

Safeguarding local employment in the private sector

The second finance minister urged businesses not to lay local off workers during the pandemic and warned them not to misuse government financial assistance.

“(Employers/employees) have to be honest for what the reason is they were laid off (or furloughed); because the business and cash flow was affected, which potentially prevents them from continuing to pay salary – these are the (segments) that the government will help with,” he said.

Inquiries can be directed to covid19.assistance@mofe.gov.bn or TAP’s call center at 2382800/2382929 for application procedures and the Treasury Department at 8191000 for payment inquiries.