MAASIN CITY, Oct. 8 (PIA) -- Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are now required under a new Social Security System (SSS) law to become members, or be covered by the state-run pension and retirement agency.
This was stressed by Oliver Fernandez, information officer of SSS-Maasin City branch, during the maiden broadcast of a weekly block-time program over radio station Dydm Monday, October 7, co-anchored by radioman Jade Nombrado.
"In the new SSS act of 2018, membership of OFWs to the SSS was made compulsory, unlike before where OFW coverage was only optional," Fernandez said in response to a text-query by a radio listener.
He was referring to Republic Act 11199, also known as the Social Security Act of 2018, which was passed by Congress on November 28, 2018 and signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 7, 2019.
The law mandates the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) including its attached agencies "to negotiate bilateral labor agreements with the OFWs' host countries to ensure that the employers of land-based OFWs, similar to the principals of sea-based OFWs, pay the required SSS contributions, in which case these land-based OFWs shall no longer be considered in the same manner as self-employed persons in this Act.
"Instead, they shall be considered as compulsorily covered employees with employer and employee shares in contributions that shall be provided for in the bilateral labor agreements and their implementing administrative agreements:
"Provided, That in countries which already extend social security coverage to OFWs, the DFA through the Philippine embassies and the DOLE shall negotiate further agreements to serve the best interests of the OFWs," Section 9-B, paragraph (d) of RA 11199 specifically provides.
But Section 9-B, paragraph (c) also talked about a self-employed situation, thus: "Land-based OFWs are compulsory members of the SSS and considered in the same manner as self-employed persons under such rules and regulations that the Commission shall prescribe."
"Upon termination of their employment overseas, OFWs may continue to pay contributions on a voluntary basis to maintain their rights to full benefits," Section 9-B paragraph (f) states.
Filipino permanent migrants, including Filipino immigrants, permanent residents and naturalized citizens of their host countries may be covered by the SSS on a voluntary basis, according to Section 9-B paragraph (g).
In the same SSS block time radio program, Fernandez advised OFWs to visit the company's website, www.sss.gov.ph for more details and instructions, especially for those who are not members yet. (mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)