STATE-RUN Social Security System (SSS) is proposing the inclusion of unemployment insurance benefit for its more than 35 million members as part of its proposed SS Reform Act of 2017, said Social Security Commission (SSC) Chairman Amado Valdez.

Valdez said the SSS is studying the feasibility of the unemployment insurance as part of the improved benefit system under the proposed charter amendment.

“The partnership between private insurance companies and the SSS will ensure that SSS members who are unemployed, without fault on their own, will be given the necessary benefits to cover for situations where no employment is available,” Valdez said.

“The vision for an unemployment insurance program enlivens the principle of patria potestas, which the SSS exercises over its members,” he added.

The proposed benefit program received the nod from representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Department of Labor and Employment, Insurance Commission (IC) and Insular Life in a recently-conducted exploratory meeting.

ILO Representatives Hideki Kagohashi and Khalid Hassan said the SSS should further look into some areas to ensure the efficient implementation of the program. These areas are: the coverage protection, the qualifying conditions to the program, the duration of the benefit, the type and level of benefit, the institutional set-up, and the conduct of actuarial studies both for SSS and the potential private insurance company.

Representatives from Dole and IC, likewise, suggested areas of considerations such as the employers and employees sector, and the aspect of regulations to be used for the implementation of the program.

Valdez said the chances of workers becoming unemployed in the future are increasing due to the use of artificial intelligence or robots to perform human activities.

Speaking before various labor groups in Laoag during a recent dialogue, Valdez said there is a vision, particularly in the international community, that laborers will be replaced by artificial intelligence in the next five years.

“That’s the fear we have at SSS. Paano na ang mga kababayan natin kung andyan na ang mga robots? Sa Japan, wala nang nagtatrabaho sa kanila that’s why they are trying to perfect a robot na pwedeng utusan,” Valdez said.

“We have to have an unemployment insurance so when you lose your job to a robot, you can be retrained to do other jobs.” he added.

Valdez explained that under the unemployment insurance program, the unemployed individual will be given enough funds for retraining or developing skills to be employed in other jobs.

“What’s in it for SSS? When you are working, there is contribution, there are savings. If you are not working, that’s the time SSS will suffer and die. So there is really a synergy in what we are doing. The contributions you make will take care of you at a time that you need it most,” he said.

He also appealed to SSS members to continuously help the pension fund in its initiatives for the further improvement of SSS benefits and services.

“If there are initiatives coming from us, don’t hesitate to help us. On the grave of our parents, we'll take care of your lifetime savings at SSS,” Valdez said. (PR)