A pre-school teacher feeds her students at a kindergarten in HCM City. Many pre-school teachers have not been eligible for the city's support package. Photo thanhnien.vn
HCM CITY — Many pre-school teachers in HCM City’s private schools have found themselves ineligible for the support package the city has allocated to help those hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reason, according to them, was the complicated regulations on social insurance.
In late March, the city’s Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Department agreed to spend VNĐ306 billion (US$13.1 million) to support those who have become unemployed or had unexpected unpaid leave due to the closure of schools or businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pre-school teachers at private and non-public schools were among beneficiaries to be given the assistance of VNĐ1 million ($43) per month for the affected three months.
Some 31,500 teachers were estimated to be eligible for the fund.
However, many said they hadn’t got any financial support although they were listed among receivers.
Phương Thảo, a pre-school teacher, wrote on social media that she, as well as other teachers, had their wages cut since early February as the school had to temporarily close to curb the spread of the pandemic.
She was among teachers in line for financial support from the city as regulated. However, none of them had received any money.
Some teachers have been informed that they were found to have paid their social insurance as usual, even over the past three months. This meant they were not unemployed or had unpaid leave, and they were not eligible for the fund.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Loan, head of Bình Thạnh District’s Office for Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper that, in principle, social insurance was paid based on the salary of an employee. In case social insurance was paid as usual, the employee would not be allowed to get the financial support.
Many schools closed and stopped paying teachers, but still paid social insurance for employees. Therefore, the office had no choice but to refuse such cases.
Nguyễn Thanh Thuỷ, head of the Gò Vấp District’s Education and Training Office, said based on the number of pre-school teachers in the district, the office had been given more than VNĐ6 billion ($257,950) to support those affected.
The office had required the ward’s authorities to examine each case before approving their money. Most were found to be ineligible because of this loophole.
As a result, the number of teachers accessing the fund was modest. More than 2,130 teachers have applied for the fund, but only 460 were eligible, he said.
If this amount was not used up, the office would return it to the State budget, he added.
In District 9, only 397 pre-school teachers have got the money.
On the other hand, Nguyễn Thị Thu Hiền, head of District 9’s Office of Education and Training said the main problem hindering teachers from getting the money was that many schools had not paid social insurance for a long time.
“Many private schools, especially family day care groups, have skipped social insurance payments. As a result, these employees did not meet the criteria for support,” she said.
This additional problem had meant another group of teachers are ineligible for support.
The same situation happened in Bình Tân District. The office has eliminated half out of a total of nearly 2,990 cases which applied for the money as they hadn’t paid social insurance as required.
So far, only 122 teachers have been given the money.
Nguyễn Bảo Cường, head of the city’s Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs’ Labour, Wages and Social Insurance Office said there were 30,570 pre-school teachers applying for the support package.
Half of those were found not to have paid social insurance, he added.
Nguyễn Thị Minh Huyền, lawyer of Luật Việt Advocates&Solicitors Company, said under the Labour Code, educational facilities found not to pay social insurance for their employees would be fined between VNĐ50-75 million (US$2,150-3,224).
These facilities would also be required to pay social insurance in arrears with interest and even face legal proceedings.
Huyền added that to access the fund, employees would have unpaid leave, have labour contracts terminated but not eligible for unemployment benefits, and participate in social insurance until the time of unemployment or unpaid leave.
Lê Minh Tấn, director of the department said he had required all districts to speed up the process of document approval, so that eligible teachers would get the money as soon as possible.
The department would work with the Department of Education and Training to find solutions for those who failed to pay social insurance as required, so that they would be eligible for the fund, he said. — VNS