Cabinet considers unemployment insurance scheme

Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange (left), is hugged by Minister for Labor and Social Security, Karl Samuda, after presenting a model of one of the pioneers of Jamaica, Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, labor rights activist. at the Department of Labor and Social Security Labor Relations Awards Banquet, held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Photo: JIS

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Unemployment Insurance scheme is due for Cabinet approval shortly, Labor and Social Security Minister Karl Samuda said.

Addressing the Department’s Labor Relations Awards Banquet, held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, the Minister said the program was a priority area for the government under the efforts to strengthen the national legislative framework for labor market resilience.

“We have taken definite steps to make this a reality in the near future. The International Labor Organization (ILO) supported the feasibility phase and we have a preliminary design of the program. I expect we will soon be able to submit a submission to Cabinet for approval,” Samuda said.

Unemployment insurance aims to protect employees against the risk of job loss and facilitates access to partial income during periods of unemployment.

The Unemployment Insurance Feasibility Study was undertaken by the ILO and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), with input from several ministries and stakeholders.

The first two phases of the feasibility study have been completed as a precursor to implementation, with the third and final phase ongoing.

Unemployment insurance would complete Jamaica’s social protection floor, as it is the only missing element as set out in Jamaica’s 2014 Social Protection Strategy.

An unemployment scheme can serve as an important macroeconomic stabilization tool during economic downturns by strengthening Jamaica’s ability to respond to economic shocks, while reducing the risk of poverty among workers and their families in times of crisis.

The function was intended to recognize the contribution of 25 individuals and five organizations for long and dedicated service in the field of labor relations.

It featured the presentation of a model of one of Jamaica’s pioneering labor rights activists, Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, by the Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange.

The piece, commissioned by the Department of Labor and Social Security, was made by sculptor Pamrie Hall Dwyer.