Govt to offer 50% of pay for three months to 40 lakh industrial workers who lost jobs during COVID-19

New Delhi: The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on Thursday relaxed norms to pay 50 percent of average wages of three months as unemployment benefit to cope with job loss between 24 March and 31 December this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ESIC board’s decision in a meeting held on Thursday is expected to benefit about 40 lakh industrial workers.

The ESIC has approved relaxation in eligibility criteria and enhancement in the payment of unemployment benefit under its Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana, it said in a statement.

It is implementing the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyna Yojna under which unemployment benefit is paid to the workers covered under ESI scheme.

According to the statement, the ESIC has decided to extend the scheme for one more year up to 30 June, 2021.

It has been decided to relax the existing conditions and the amount of relief for workers who have lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic period, it added.

The enhanced relief under the relaxed conditions will be payable during the period of March 24, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Thereafter the scheme will be available with original eligibility condition during the period 1 January to 30 June 2021.

The review of these (relaxed) conditions will be done after 31 December this year depending upon the need and demand for such relaxed condition, it said.

The eligibility criteria for availing the relief has also been relaxed under the scheme.

It said the payment of relief has been enhanced to 50 percent of average of wages from earlier 25 percent of average wages payable up to maximum 90 days of unemployment.

Instead of the relief becoming payable 90 days after unemployment, it shall become due for payment after 30 days, it added.

The Insured Person (IP) can submit the claim directly to the ESIC branch office instead of the claim being forwarded by the last employer and the payment shall be made directly in the bank account of IP.

The IP should have insurable employment for a minimum period of 2 years before his/her employment and should have contributed for not less than 78 days in the contribution period immediately preceding to unemployment and minimum 78 days in one of the remaining 3 contribution periods in two years prior to unemployment, the statement said.

The ESIC, during its 182nd meeting held on Thursday under the chairmanship of Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, also took some other decisions towards improvement in its service delivery mechanism and providing relief to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decisions include establishment of ICU/HDU (Intensive care unit) services at 10 per cent of total beds in ESIC Hospitals.

With a view to strengthen ICU/HDU services in ESIC hospitals amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been decided to establish ICU/HDU (High Dependency Unit) services up to 10 per cent of total commissioned beds in all ESIC Hospitals.

ESIC covers about 3.49 crore of family units of workers and providing matchless cash benefits and reasonable medical care to its 13.56 crore beneficiaries.

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