Seniority payments postponed

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Seniority payments for a large percentage of workers have been postponed until next year. Hong Menea

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced on Monday the postponement of seniority payments for workers prior to 2019 and new seniority payments for workers in 2020, opting to implement them next year instead.

The ministry also asked more than 25,000 workers in the garment and tourism sectors to withdraw their second round of subsidy money after losing work due to Covid-19.

The announcement, signed by Minister Ith Sam Heng specified that workers with fixed-term employment contracts in the textile and footwear industries will have their pre-2019 seniority payments postponed to next year as well.

It also said that 2020 seniority payments for workers in all sectors will be postponed to next year.

The announcement also said that during this postponement period, all factory owners and enterprises must pay workers their entire seniority payments if their contract is terminated.

However, if an employee’s contract is terminated due to serious misconduct or an employee resigns, he will not receive his seniority payment.

“The reason for the postponement is to contribute to the private sector and the workers most affected by the outbreak of Covid-19,” the ministry confirmed.

The ministry also announced to the 25,888 workers in the garment and tourism sectors that they can collect their second stage of government subsidies through Wings agencies.

The announcement said: “More than 25,000 workers from 67 garment and tourism businesses which have suspended operations due to Covid-19 [have been asked to collect their subsidies]”.

It said workers have 10 days from the moment they receive a text message from Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank to withdraw their subsidies or their money will be returned to the government.

On Tuesday, ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the subsidy payments for the more than 20,000 workers were based on the number of days that the factory had suspended work.

In late May, the ministry requested more than 33,000 suspended garment and tourism workers from 111 factories and enterprises to withdraw their subsidy payments, which were divided into three parts.

If their work was suspended from seven to 10 days, workers are eligible for a 60,750 riel ($15) payment. Workers suspended from 11 to 20 days are eligible for a 121,500 riel and those suspended for 21 days to one month are eligible for 162,000 riel.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) programme coordinator Khun Tharo told The Post on Tuesday that the government must have stronger measures in place to assist the workers.

“The impact could be long-term if there are no purchase orders and overseas stores are out of business. Therefore, the stability in orders and production depends on the evolution of global events.

“The government must consider that cash reserves must ensure that all workers are employed and the private sector is functioning properly,” he said.

He said if the impact lasts for too long, the government will need to look at borrowing money and finding development partners to ensure the survival of the country’s core industries.

The withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme from Cambodia, he said, would also hurt the economy.

Tharo said he expects the government to offer subsidies to workers in other sectors as well, as every sector has been impacted by Covid-19.

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