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Everything small business owners need to know about government assistance during COVID-19

Everything small business owners need to know about government assistance during COVID-19

Along with the declaration of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) comes the unprecedented challenges that small and micro-businesses owners have to face to keep their businesses afloat. Government agencies have come up with financial assistance programs that specifically cater to small and micro-businesses and their employees. Here is everything you need to know about them.

Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS)

To aid affected employees of small businesses, the Social Security System (SSS) has come up with the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) measure. This program provides a wage subsidy (₱5,000 to ₱8,000 per month, depending on the region of work) for qualified beneficiaries for up to two months, allowing small businesses to survive the ECQ period.

Who is qualified?

All small businesses without means to operate during the ECQ are eligible for application. Corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship are all considered as small businesses, as long as they are not included in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service list. Only small businesses that have been forced to either completely stop operations or operate only under a skeletal force are eligible to apply for a wage subsidy for employees who cannot work during the ECQ.

How to apply

  1. Head to the SSS website and log-in to your My.SSS account.

  2. Click the SBWS tab.

  3. Encode the TIN and alphanumeric Passcode as shown on the BIR website.

  4. Select your eligible employees by ticking the box beside their SS number. Eligible employees, regardless of contract status, must meet the following criteria:

    • a. Employed as of March 01, 2020

    • b. Cannot work, either physically or remotely, due to the ECQ

    • c. Received no pay for at least two weeks because of the ECQ

  5. Tick the box on the right side if the selected employee is a beneficiary of the DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

  6. Enter the TIN for each selected employee.

  7. Click on “Employer Undertaking” and certify the conditions stated by clicking “I Agree”.

  8. Upon completing the online application, submit the Certification Attesting to the Work and Pay Status of Employee to [email protected] or the nearest SSS branch. You may download the template by clicking the “Employer Certification Template”.

  9. The SSS automated system will then validate the eligibility of each employee to receive the SBWS wage subsidy.

  10. The SSS will notify eligible employees through an email that their employers have confirmed their qualification for the SBWS program.

Important reminders for employers

Employers are to complete the applications on behalf of their employees. Applications will be accepted starting from April 16 to May 8, 2020.

Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing (ERF) Loan Facility

Aside from the SSS, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has also allocated a large amount of funds to aid small and micro-businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Through the Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing (ERF) Loan Facility, microbusinesses can borrow up to ₱200,000. Small businesses can loan up to ₱500,000. Both loaning programs have a minimal interest rate of about 0.5%.

Who is qualified?

Both microbusinesses and small businesses are eligible to apply for the ERF Loan Facility, as long as the small or micro-business has been existing for at least one year by March 2020. The DTI classifies microbusinesses as those with one to nine employees, with an asset size of not more than ₱3 million. Meanwhile, small businesses are those with 10 to 99 employees, with an asset size of between ₱3 million to ₱15 million.

How to apply

As of April 23, 2020, there are no requirements or guidelines released yet. However, the DTI has already announced that applications for the ERF Loan Facility may be done online. Applications will be accepted after the ECQ is lifted.

SSS Calamity Loan Assistance Program (CLAP)

If any of your employees need additional assistance, you may consider suggesting the SSS Calamity Loan Assistance Program (CLAP). This program helps aid active SSS members through a special loan. Through this program, SSS members may borrow up to ₱20,000 per month.

Normally, the CLAP is offered to members that are victims of natural calamities or other disasters. But by April 24, 2020, the SSS will be opening this program to members who are financially affected by the ECQ. Loans will be available until May 2020 and are payable in 27 months.

Who is qualified?

Regularly, the CLAP qualifies members who meet the following criteria:

  • Paid at least 36 monthly contributions

  • Resides at an area declared under the State of Calamity

  • Has not availed of the following SSS benefits:

    • Total permanent disability

    • Retirement

    • Death

  • Does not have outstanding SSS Loan Restructuring Program or Calamity Loan Assistance Program

How to apply

  1. Loan applications can be done on the SSS website or its mobile app. Log-in to your My.SSS account.

  2. Prepare the original copies of the following documents:

    • a. Completed Calamity Loan Assistance Application Form

    • b. Barangay Certification

    • c. One primary ID (UMID, driver’s license, passport, PRC card, or Seaman’s Book) or two secondary IDs (PhilHealth ID, company ID, senior citizen ID, voter’s ID, TIN card, etc.)

  3. Submit these documents to the Member Services Section of any SSS branch.

Contact information

SBWS Hotline: 1455 Toll-Free: 1-800-10-2255777 Email: [email protected] Facebook: fb.com/SSSPh Website: www.sss.gov.ph

ERF Loan Facility P3 Hotline: 8651-3333 Email: [email protected] Facebook: fb.com/PondoSaPagbabagoAtPagasenso

SSS CLAP SSS Hotline: 920-6446 to 55 Email: [email protected] Facebook: fb.com/SSSPh Website: www.sss.gov.ph

Never miss out on vital information like this! Learn more about how you can help your employees by visiting the Laws of Attraction Spotlight and Data Lab.

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