OVERVIEW: The Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program
By atty. Stephanie Anne V. Tible
Here is an overview of the government’s Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program.
- What is the SBWS? The Department of Finance (DOF) recently issued the guidelines for the availment of a wage subsidy through the Social Security System (SSS). Under the SBWS Program, the amount of the subsidy will range from Php5,000.00 to Php8,000.00 per employee, which may be provided for up to two months.
- Who are entitled to the SBWS? Before availing of this subsidy, it would be helpful to take note of the following:
As to the employer: (a) Is the employer considered a “small business”, such that it is not in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list? (b) If yes, is it a “non-essential” business that was forced to stop operations or a “quasi-essential” business that is allowed to operate a skeletal force?
If you answer ‘yes’ to (a) and (b), then you may be an eligible small business.
As to the employee: (a) Is the employee working for an eligible small business? (b) Is he/she employed and active as of 01 March 2020, but unable to work due to the ECQ? (c) Did he/she not get paid by the employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020? (d) Is he/she a regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, or fixed-term employee? (e) Is he/she certified by the employer in the application as having met the criteria enumerated from (a) to (d)?
If you answer ‘yes’ to (a) up to (d), then you may be an eligible employee.
- Who are not entitled to the SBWS? The following may not avail of this subsidy:
As to the employer: A business will not be considered as a “small business” if it is in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.
As to the employee: If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following, then you are not eligible to receive a subsidy under this program: (a) Are you working from home or part of the skeleton force? (b) Did you voluntarily went on the following types of leave – maternity leave, paternity leave, study leave, sabbatical leave, and leaves of the same type – for the entire duration of the ECQ, whether with or without pay? (c) Are you a recipient of SSS unemployment benefits due to COVID-19? (d) Did you settle or have in-process SSS final claims (funeral, retirement, death, and total disability)?
- I passed the eligibility requirements of the SBWS program. How can I get the subsidy? According to the DOF, the following conditions must first be fulfilled before availing of the program:
As to the employer: Small businesses must maintain the employment status of all eligible employee beneficiaries before the ECQ and throughout the SBWS period. This will be checked during the monitoring and evaluation stage. Non-compliance with this condition shall result in the employer refunding to the government the wage subsidy amount.
As to the employee: Employees cannot resign during the ECQ period.
- How much will I get under the SBWS program? The amount of the subsidy will depend on which region the eligible small business is located:
- NCR – Php8,000.00
- CAR – Php5,500.00
- I – Php5,500.00
- II – Php5,500.00
- III – Php8,000.00
- IV-A – Php8,000.00
- IV-B – Php5,000.00
- V – Php5,000.00
- VI – Php6,000.00
- VII – Php6,000.00
- VIII – Php5,000.00
- IX – Php5,000.00
- X – Php6,000.00
- XI – Php6,000.00
- XII – Php5,000.00
- CARAGA – Php5,000.00
- BARMM – Php5,000.00
- When should I avail of the SBWS program? The application must be done during the period of 16 April 2020 until 30 April 2020.
- When will I receive the subsidy under the SBWS program? The payout will be done in two tranches. The first tranche will be from 01 May 2020 until 15 May 2020, while the second tranche will be from 16 May 2020 until 31 May 2020.
- How will I receive the subsidy under the SBWS program? The modes of payment are as follows:
- Withdrawal via employee’s SSS UMID cards enrolled as ATM;
- Withdrawal from employee’s bank account for PESOnet participating banks;
- Employee’s Union Bank Quick Card (partnership with SSS);
- Employee’s E-wallet: PayMaya;
- Cash pick-up arrangement through remittance transfer companies.
- What other matters should I consider?
Eligible small businesses must follow the step-by-step process of the SBWS program. To check one’s eligibility for the program, kindly visit the Bureau of Internal Revenue website: https://www.bir.gov.ph and click on the SBWS icon. Further instructions are given on the SBWS program query homepage.
Also, to initiate the application for the subsidy, please access the Social Security System website through the My.SSS accounts. Click this link: https://www.sss.gov.ph/sss/appmanager/portal/home.
For full details on the SBWS program, you may visit the DOF website: https://www.dof.gov.ph/small-business-wage-subsidy-program/?fbclid=IwAR3eqQFoWyYlnYD7acijghSfdPltcN5sXE-VQ56IWVjL6BTZVBh813X-y_o#about-sbws-program.Atty. Stephanie Tible is practicing social distancing and may be available for e-consultations. You may reach her at email@example.com. You may also set an appointment via teleconference with our MFBR attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe