Time Extension to Be Considered for Tourism Workers in Pension Scheme

Jamaica News: The Government is to consider extending the time given for tourism workers in a specific age group to contribute to the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme, in light of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This applies to tourism workers aged 59, who are being specially accommodated under the scheme.

Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, gave the assurance as he piloted the Tourism Workers’ Pension Scheme Regulations in the Senate on Friday (May 1).

The Regulations outline the registration process for employed and self-employed persons under the pension scheme.

“The Government will have to consider… if it needs to amend and extend, based on the enrolment. The fact is, COVID will create new challenges and everything is going to have to be constantly reviewed as you go through the process of enrolment,” he said, in response to a point raised by Opposition Senator, Lambert Brown.

Senator Samuda said given that this age group “will have a limited time period in which to save for their pension”, these workers will be targeted under the scheme, when the industry reopens after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

This category would be eligible for the augmented pension benefit if they have not saved enough to meet the minimum pension.

Senator Samuda explained that this augmented benefit will be available for all members who joined the scheme within the first 365 days of the inception of the scheme. That means, the augmented pension benefit will be available to all members who join by January 30, 2021.

“For a member to benefit from the augmented pension, the Fund Administrator must provide the Board of Trustees with a statement detailing the contributions made for and on behalf of the member and the frequency of contributions,” he informed.

In addition, the Fund Administrator must also certify that the funds in the member’s retirement savings are insufficient to purchase the minimum pension.

Senator Samuda pointed out that the pension scheme, which falls under the Tourism Workers’ Pension Act, is critical to improving the well-being of tourism workers, noting that the Regulations “mark the final hurdle” in enabling tourism workers to join the scheme.

“The passage of these regulations is timely and paves the way for tourism workers and self-employed tourism workers to join the scheme. It is now time for the Government to give back, so that these fine tourism workers can retire with their dignity and financial security,” he said.

The scheme is one component of a three-pronged human capital development plan for industry workers, which includes training and capacity building. It is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation and will require mandatory contributions by workers and employers.

It will cover all workers in the tourism sector, aged 18 to 59, whether permanent, contractual or self-employed. These include hotel workers as well as persons employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions.

Benefits will be payable to persons 65 years or older who have met the vested period of five years.

Following a robust debate, the Regulations were approved by the Senators present.


Source: JIS News

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