The National Insurance Board (NIB) has again vowed to crack down on employers that do not make contributions on behalf of their employees, while still deducting the payment from their salaries.
Minister of the Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle said the COVID-19 pandemic once again exposed the delinquent employers.
As a result, Rolle said NIB intends to rollout an employee portal, similar to the recently launched Employer Self Service (ESS) portal, which would allow workers to track their contributions and claims; as well as an NIB Master Card which would allow benefits to be paid directly to a card, eliminating the need for workers to collect a check.
“Imagine the Bahamian public that has made their commitment to their employer, only to go to NIB to find out that the monies did not get to NIB. This is so unfair. COVID-19 has exposed a lot of individuals who fall in this category,” Rolle said during debate on the 2020/2021 budget in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“And so, while we took the carefully considered position that is stated on the NIB Act, that no employee shall be disadvantaged, we also made the commitment that we have to go after those employers who in short cheated their staff.
“The director of NIB has already taken the position that adjustments will be made in compliance, that we will go after these companies, we will expose them and in addition to that we have also taken the position that we must adjust, we must do things differently.”
Rolle said over the past three months, NIB has learned some valuable and critical lessons on how to improve its service to the Bahamian workforce.
“One of the lessons we have learned is that we must move away from the manual intake of claims from mailboxes and drop boxes, we must elevate our game and take advantage of technology, so that we can indeed do business in this new Bahamas and transition to improve the quality of life for every single Bahamian, as we promote the ease of doing business,” he said.
“Toward this end, we have launched a portal for tracking unemployment claims. For these types of claims, employees will be able to register at this portal and carry out the following things. They will be able to submit their claims, review the status of their claims and locate their claims payment. That’s going to be extraordinary when we get to that point. We will be able to provide employees with the ability to go online and track their payments and make sure that when monies are deducted from their salaries, they can themselves see that the money has been applied to their accounts at NIB.”
Rolle said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that NIB must invest more in the use of technology for the collection and processing of payments, benefits and claims.
“NIB cannot continue to make payments manually. The face-to-face interaction of giving out checks cannot work well when dealing with pandemics such as COVID-19. Plus we waste a lot of time doing these processes. Once the employee can see their claims and we can process them electronically, we will believe that is a good step we have taken,” he said.
“To further facilitate this process and to make sure that every single customer from NIB has the ability to know what is going on with their account, we are going to transition the NIB cards, so that this card becomes a loadable Master Card on which NIB can disburse funds. This card would be accepted at any Visa or Master Card terminal. Therefore we can put money directly on the card so persons on Acklins and Inagua don’t have to wait. I think this process, having the ability to put funds directly onto the cards that we offer, will change how NIB does business.”