The government launched in April a ₱51-billion program to aid 3.4 million private employees working in 1.5 million small businesses. This is a joint project of the Department of Finance (DoF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Social Security System (SSS) in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
Here’s everything you need to know about the SSS Wage Subsidy and how to avail of SWBS Program:
What is the Small Business Wage Subsidy or SWBS Program?
The Small Business Wage Subsidy or SBWS Program provides financial assistance to middle-class earners employed by small businesses that are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This program aims to:
- Aid those who are unable to work or receive salary due to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)
- Support the small businesses struggling to pay their employees
NOTE: Employers must be the one to process the application for their employees.
How much is the SBWS financial assistance?
The SWBS financial assistance will amount between ₱5,000 and ₱8,000 for each qualified applicant, depending on the monthly minimum wage per region. This is a ONE-TIME cash grant that will be provided within two months.
Here is a list of the minimum wage rates of the different regions where applicants may base the subsidy they can receive:
Minimum wage rate: ₱5,000
Minimum wage rate: ₱5,500
Minimum wage rate: ₱6,000
Minimum wage rate: ₱8,000
What businesses are eligible to apply for SBWS?
Businesses that may apply for the wage subsidy program are:
- Small businesses, or those that are not included in the BIR list of Large Taxpayers Service or LTS.
- Small businesses that are forced to suspend the work, continue with a diminished workforce, or shut down the operations due to the community quarantines imposed on Luzon and other parts of the country.
- Small businesses that follow BIR and SSS rules will be prioritized.
What are the qualifications for employees to receive SBWS cash aid?
Those who are qualified to get financial assistance from the Small Business Wage Subsidy are:
- Employees working for an eligible small business.
- Employees active until March 1, 2020, but have not received a salary for two weeks or more due to ECQ.
- Employees of any contract status (probationary, regular, project-based, fixed-term, regular seasonal)
- Employees whose eligibility for the program can be certified by employers.
NOTE: Employees who are beneficiaries of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program from DOLE may also receive the wage subsidy only for the first month.
Who are not qualified for the SBWS financial assistance?
Those who are NOT qualified for the wage subsidy are:
- Employees who are a part of the skeletal workforce
- Employees who are working from home
- Employees on leave throughout the ECQ (with or without pay)
- Employees who are recipients of SSS unemployment benefits
- Employees who have in-process or settled SSS final claims
Conditions for SBWS Program
These are conditions that come with the wage subsidy program:
- Employers should not terminate the employee who received the subsidy during the ECQ.
- Employees who received the subsidy cannot resign throughout the ECQ period.
This will be monitored and evaluated. Non-compliance of this condition will result in refunding of the wage subsidy amount by the employers.
How to verify the business eligibility for SBWS with BIR
You have to verify first if the business (partnership, corporation, or sole proprietorship) is not part of LTS and eligible for the program. Here are the steps:
- Visit the official website of BIR and click the “SBWS” button on the homepage.
- Type in the employer’s Tax Identification Number (TIN) in the search field of the SBWS page. It is recommended to check the Certificate of Registration to provide accurate details.
- Click “Search,” and the applicant (or the employer) will find out if they’re qualified for the subsidy program.
- If the employer or applicant is not qualified, the system will flash a red prompt. If you have questions about the eligibility criteria, send an email to SWBS_BIRquery@bir.gov.ph with your TIN, registered name or business name, Revenue District Office where you registered, and message.
- If the employer or applicant is qualified, the system will flash a green prompt, containing the details of the business and passcode.
- Copy the passcode given by the BIR system, which is needed for the application process.
Step-by-step guide to Small Businesses Wage Subsidy application via SSS
Here are the steps employers need to follow in order to file an SSS SBWS program application:
- After verifying the eligibility of the small business with BIR SBWS, you should go to the SSS official website. Log into your My.SSS account, the online platform of SSS.
- Once logged in, click on the “Small Business Wage Subsidy” tab.
- Type in the TIN and the passcode generated by the BIR SBWS system.
- Click “Proceed” to be redirected to the application portal.
- The employer/applicant will see a list of employees. If the employees’ names cannot be found in the list, it means they are not registered in the My.SSS or the information in their online account is not complete.
- The employer should pick the employees qualified for the program by ticking the box on the left side of each name. The employer should also tick the box on the right side of the names of the workers who are beneficiaries of DOLE-CAMP.
- Then, type in the employees’ respective TINs.
- Click “I agree” with the Employer’s Undertaking that due process is followed and disclosures are shared with the employees.
- After the application online, download the “Employer Certification Template.” The employer must submit Certification Attesting to the Work and Pay Status of Employee to SBWSCertification@sss.gov.ph. Failure to submit the said document will halt the application process.
- The automated system will validate each employee’s profile if he/she has not received any forms of financial assistance or SSS claims. Then, SSS will show a notification to the employer if the employee is denied or approved, and the reasons to back up the decision.
- Approved employees will be notified by SSS through email and will be provided with the claiming process of the cash grants. Employers will also be notified if the qualified employees are “for confirmation,” meaning they lack credentials like non-registration to My.SSS portal and no bank account or no bank account registered on SSS online portal.
When can you apply for the SBWS Program?
Here are the schedules for the wage subsidy program:
- Application period: April 16, 2020 to May 8, 2020
- Disbursement of the first batch of the subsidy: May 1, 2020 to May 15, 2020
- Disbursement of the second batch: May 16, 2020 to May 30, 2020 (may change due to ECQ updates)
How will you receive the SBWS cash aids?
Confirmed employees can receive the payouts in various ways. These are:
- Bank account (PESOnet-affiliated banks)
- Cash pick-up via remittance centers
- E-wallet (PayMaya)
- SSS UMID cards enrolled as ATM
- UnionBank Quick Card (in partnership with SSS)
For more SBWS inquiries from SSS
You may reach SSS through the following channels: