“The NIS has been taking up its responsibility with regard to non-complaint employers since it started in 1983,” commented Public Relations Officer (PRO) at the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Lisa Douglas.
On Monday, she told The Grenadian Voice that currently in the High Court there are 137 claims against employers and 64 claims in the Magistrate court.
Her comment follows a call from Labour representative in the Senate, Andre Lewis, who called on the NIS to take legal action against business owners that have not been remitting employees contribution to the Scheme.
Earlier this year, Douglas highlighted this challenge after investigation into claims under the NIS’ Unemployment Assistance Benefit programme, which was established to bring relief to those becoming unemployed due to COVID-19.
At a recent Senate sitting, Senator Lewis called “on the NIS to do all that the law requires them to do, to go after the employers whom this process has shown had been robbing and stealing from employees; because they made the 4/5% deduction and have not sent it to the NIS. That also tells me that they did not make the [employer’s] contribution of the 5/6% that they are mandated under law. There is a penalty under the NIS.”
Douglas in Monday’s interview explained that if an employer remains non-compliant there is a process involving contacting the employer and writing letters, that can lead to court action. This, she said “is a normal process.”
The PRO further explained that the law provides for their inspectors to visit workplaces, noting that this is done regularly.
Stressing the importance of compliance, Douglas said at the NIS, the Compliance department is the largest. Adding however that while compliance officers may not be able to discover each case of non-compliance, she urged employees to help them by regularly checking their contribution status at the NIS.
Further, the PRO shared that employers are frequently audited. Franka Bell, Senior Compliance Officer, explained that employers’ payrolls are audited to ensure information is accurate. This process also involves interviewing employees, she said.
In 2019, over 237 audits were done and this year so far, over 60 audits were done.
Douglas noted that auditing is important because an employer may be compliant but under complying. She explained that for instance, if there are 11 employees, an employer may only remit contributions for 10 employees.
Nonetheless, PRO Douglas stressed that “the employer being non-compliant does not deny the employee from getting their benefits…if you apply for a benefit you will still be able to get your benefit even if your employer doesn’t make payments. We will take up legal action, employees do not have to pay for us to take legal action against their employer, we have a lawyer, a legal department and we take legal action….”
This statement however seems to be a correction to a statement Douglas made in June, where she noted that employees contribution status which are not up-to-date due to employers not remitting it to the NIS, disqualified them from receiving the monthly UAB.
Douglas reminded that non-compliance can be reported to the NIS anonymously, if there is a fear of victimisation or losing one’s job.