The National Insurance Department (NID) in Barbados has revealed that within the four months of shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak, it doled out BD$70.6 in unemployment benefits.
“During the period March 23, 2020, to July 31, 2020, the National Insurance Department received 60,623 termination certificates and paid $70.6 million to 28,950 unemployment benefit claimants,” Acting Director of the National Insurance Scheme Jennifer Hunte disclosed.
“We also have to take into consideration that some claimants received multiple termination certificates. These would represent various extensions of the expected dates to resume work as indicated by their employers,” she continued.
Hunte also pointed out that the number of unemployment benefit claims for the four-month period represented almost the same value for three years. Within the last three years, the NIS has handled an average of 11,000 claims per annum.
Yet, there are a number of claimants who did not receive benefits for various reasons, the acting director shared. Among the reasons, some individuals have not worked for 52 weeks, others did not have the required minimum contributions, some forms had limited or inaccurate information, and some individuals submitted incorrectly completed earnings schedules.
The NID, as a result, has had to handle large volumes of telephone calls to address queries.
“We are very aware that many of you have been frustrated that you have not been able to reach us as easily as you would have liked due to unprecedented call volumes and for this, we sincerely apologise,” Hunte explained.
“Please be assured that we continue to process your unemployment benefits as well as the other benefit types including payment to over 40,000 pensioners. We have been working on ways that you can reach us faster and will be making some improvements to facilitate such,” she added.
The NID has since provided the Bajan public with additional contact details, including telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, on its website and social media pages.
“Please ensure that you put your e-mail address and telephone numbers on your termination certificate so that we can contact you quickly, if necessary,” Hunte said.
She further assured claimants that the NID is working toward issuing the payments for the remaining claims.