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29.06.2004 Business & Finance

It's illegal to deny casual workers' SSNIT contribution - Bimpong

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Accra, June 29, GNA - Mr Kwaku Osei Bimpong, Head, Public Affairs, Social Security National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on Tuesday said any employer, who denied a worker its social security contribution on the basis that he was a casual worker would be dealt with according to the law.

He said over the years employers had denied workers their contributions on the basis that they were casual workers but said under the Social Security Law no employee was regarded as a "casual worker". Mr Bimpong was speaking at a day's workshop for over 100 employers drawn from companies and organizations in the Accra-West area under the theme: "Towards Prompt Payment of Benefits - Our Responsibilities". The workshop organised by the Achimota District of SSNIT, forms part of an annual programme aimed at sensitising employers on the need to honour their obligations of paying workers contributions to ensure that the Ghanaian worker lived with a sense of security and happiness as he got closer to his retirement.

Mr Bimpong said in as much as the Trust wished to cooperate well with employers in carrying out their legitimate responsibility, it would not hesitate to let the law to take its course if the employee was being denied what was due him.

He enumerated a number of steps such as reducing the period of processing benefits from about 50 to 18 days, improving data gathering and deepening the level of cooperation with employers as steps being instituted to upgrade SSNIT's standard to a world class financial institution dedicated to the promotion of economic security. "The issue of prompt payment of members contributions and data are not coming to us in the manner that they should, even though they are very crucial for the Trust to process prompt and accurate payment," he noted.

On the Age 54+ Programme, Mr Bimpong said it was aimed at preparing the employee for retirement by making sure that their data were correct to enable SSNIT to pay promptly and accurately benefits due contributors.

"Employers should, therefore, refrain from using the Age 54+ Programme as the retirement age for employees by asking them to go on retirement prior to the actual date and time," he said.

Mr Ohene Kwaku Abbu-Bonsra, Area Manager, Accra West, gave an overview of the Trust's activities and said it had not been able to fully enforce its laws in the past by compelling employers to honour their obligations.

He said SSNIT had been lenient, but henceforth it was going to adopt firm and prudent compliance tactics that would ensure that employers did not take the Trust for a ride adding: "Most have taken our leniency to be our weakness but this will be a thing of the past."

He announced that as part of the measures, names of companies/employers would be published in the newspapers periodically to detail the amount of their indebtedness.

Mr Fred Bukari, District Manager, Achimota, said the compliance rate in the area was 75 per cent adding that an outstanding debt of 12.1 billion cedis was yet to be retrieved from 280 employers.