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An Unemployment Insurance Scheme  for Jamaica will  be explored at the annual Labour Market Reform forum, to be held  at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, on December 6.

This was disclosed by Labour Market Analyst in the Human and Community Development Unit of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Deidra Coy, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on December  4.

The forum, which is a collaborative effort between the PIOJ and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), will be addressed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller.    

Mrs. Coy  said that as the level of unemployment in the country increased over the last five years, it was felt that now is an opportune time to examine the possibility (of an unemployment insurance scheme).

“One of the main objectives of the Unemployment Insurance Scheme is to help persons build resilience against periods of shock associated with periods of un-employment,” she explained. 

Unemployment insurance schemes are generated and supported by a mandatory and regular contributory mechanism by both employer and employee.  It is similar to a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) instrument and operates in a similar fashion to the unemployment benefits scheme in the United States. 

It is not new to the Caribbean as both Barbados and the Bahamas have already instituted such a scheme.  Beneficiaries generally benefit from approximately 26 weeks of disbursement, depending on what has been  approved.

The forum, which will benefit from the participation of international and regional specialists, will focus on three primary objectives – to sensitise stakeholders on how to operate an unemployment insurance scheme;  to generate discussion on the  way forward and getting consensus on an alternative to redundancy payments; and to offer recommendations on the development of a model for  the unemployment insurance scheme for  Jamaica.

One of the expected outcomes of the forum is the formation of a Steering Committee to be led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which is expected  to spearhead the formulation and implementation process.

The forum is open to the general public.