LABOUR RIGHTS advocates yesterday voiced their opposition to the Labour Ministry’s plan to increase Social Security Fund (SSF) contributions from Bt750 to a maximum of Bt1,000 a month for workers earning more than Bt20,000.
The proposal calls for the increase of contributions to be Bt750 for those earning less than Bt16,000, Bt800 for those earning between Bt16,000 and Bt20,000, and Bt1,000 for those earning more than Bt20,000. Earners have been contributing up to Bt750 for more than two decades now.
Boonyuen Sukmai, secretary-general for the Eastern-Region Labour Union Association, said paying a higher rate will not result in a significant increase in benefits, and suggested that the government work increasing employers’ contribution to the Provident Fund to 5 per cent from the current 3 per cent.
Somporn Kwannet, deputy chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, said he disagreed with the proposal to increase SSF contributions based on the salary structure.
Some 20 per cent of the Thai workforce – most of whom earn more than Bt20,000 a month and thus would have to pay Bt1,000 to the SSF instead of the current rate of Bt750 – also remain doubtful about the benefits they will get in return for paying more every month, he said.
Still waiting for better benefits
Besides, Somporn said, 80 per cent of the people under SSF – which earned up to Bt60 billion a year from investments – were still waiting for adjusted benefits to meet their necessities. The proposed hike, which has been advertised as more benefits for those who pay more, could also cause inequity in the system, he added.
“The government should resume its 5 per cent contribution to the SSF [from the current 2.7 per cent] to meet the amount paid by workers and employers, and return the Bt56 billion it owes to the SSF. That money can be used in improving SSF benefits. If that is not enough, then you can start talking about hiking workers’ contributions,” Somporn said.
The rights advocates spoke up after Labour Minister Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo confirmed that he would go ahead with the plan to increase contributions. He made this announcement while presiding over an event in Bangkok celebrating the Social Security Office’s 28th anniversary.
Some 10 per cent of Thailand’s workforce earns Bt15,000, while 32 per cent earn more than Bt20,000, officials said.
Increased benefits for the maximum monthly contributions include; unemployment compensation of Bt10,000 a month (from Bt7,500); a Bt10,000 per month maximum compensation for unpaid sick leave (from the current 50 per cent of daily wage); an increased Bt30,000 childbirth compensation (from Bt22,500) and a pension of Bt4,000 per month (from Bt3,000).
Adul also said the ministry hoped to bring 1 million informal-sector workers into the SSF system per year as voluntarily insured persons starting next year.
So far this year, more than 300,000 informal-sector workers – such as taxi drivers or people working from home – have entered the system under the Social Security Act’s Article 40, bringing the total number of voluntarily insured persons’ to 2.5 million, he said. Thailand has 21 million informal-sector workers.
Thailand has a total of 15 million insured persons under the social insurance system.