JIS News

On leaving high school persons do one of two things, they either try to get a job or seek higher education.
For job seekers, one of the most important documents that they must present to an employer is the National Insurance Card, which facilitates employees contributing to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Speaking with JIS News, Director of the NIS, Denzil Thorpe explains that individuals must be registered under the scheme in order to obtain a card.
“Persons can register in any NIS parish office with their proof of age. Under the National Insurance Act, individuals reaching age 18 years are required to be registered under the National Insurance Scheme. After registration, they will be provided with a card that has a number assigned to them,” he points out.
While holders may be unaware of the card’s significance, there are several obligations and responsibilities that they must fulfill. According to Mr. Thorpe these include occasionally inspecting their deduction cards.
“One should note that when this card has been presented to the employer, it is the employees’ responsibility to ensure that their NIS numbers and names are correctly written on all NIS documents at the workplace. They should request of the employer, their NIS deduction card, which is also referred to as (the) C2, at least twice per year for inspection,” Mr. Thorpe outlines.
According to him, it is also important that contributors check on their contribution record at the NIS office at least once per year. He also emphasizes that on leaving a job, they should request a leaving certificate commonly known as the “C5” form. This is to ensure that all the deductions made were actually paid to the NIS office.
In addition, employees should request of their employers, the “C7” certificate, which details NIS contributions deducted and paid during the year.
Elaborating further on the card’s importance, the Director notes that it is used to maintain up-to-date information on an individual’s working life.
“This card is very important since it is used to track contributions made by persons throughout their working life, regardless of how many employers they may have had. It should always be presented to the employer at the start of a new job, who will then make the contributions on their behalf. The Scheme will then be able to identify who the contributions belong to,” Mr. Thorpe explains.
In the meantime the NIS Director is reminding contributors of the amount that is deducted and how the contributions are used.
“The employer contributes 2.5 per cent matched by the employee’s 2.5 per cent up to a maximum of $500,000.00 per annum,” Mr. Thorpe states.
The contribution was, however, recently reconfigured with two per cent of the contributions now being paid over to the NIS, and the remaining .5 per cent going to the National Health Fund (NHF).
“These funds are used to cover benefits and administration expenses, and surplus contributions are invested by the board of the National Investment Fund (NIF),” he says, adding that the Scheme provides long and short term benefits and grants to persons qualifying for same.
Long term benefits are payable for life and are commonly referred to as pensions. These comprise the categories of: Retirement, Widow/Widower, Invalidity, Special Child/Orphan, Disability, and Special Anniversary.
Short term benefits, on the other hand, have a specific life span and include Employment Injury, Special Child/Orphan, Widow/Widower, Maternity, Disablements, and Employment Injury/Death.
Meanwhile, grants are one-off payments such as Retirement, Invalidity, Widow/Widower, and Funeral, which are payable only where contributions for a pension are deemed unsatisfactory or insufficient. Mr. Thorpe tells JIS News that qualification for most NIS benefits are based on contributions made to the Scheme, adding that a specific benefit will have different contributory conditions in order for persons to qualify.
“The NIS pays pension benefits at three different rates. Therefore, a person who has met a qualification of below 10 weekly payments will get a grant, qualification of below average of 10-25 weeks would get a half rate benefit which is a half pension, a person whose average is 26-38 weeks will get a three quarter rate benefit, and a person whose average is 38 weeks and above will get a full rate pension,” he explains.
In accessing these benefits, specific documentation is required but according to Mr. Thorpe, the steps are similar.
“When applying for benefits from the Scheme, it normally takes approximately three months. But each benefit requires different documentations. First the person must visit the NIS office in their parish, fill out an application pertaining to the benefit they are applying for. They should then provide the necessary documentation to support the form and submit the application which is then sent to the head office for processing. Applicants are normally contacted through the mail,” Mr. Thorpe points out.
The NIS is a compulsory contributory, funded social security scheme, covering all employed persons in Jamaica. It offers some financial protection to the worker and his/her family against loss of income arising from injury on the job, sickness, old age, and death of the breadwinner.

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