As an employer, do you know that your obligation goes beyond remitting your employees’ (plus the employer’s) statutory contributions to various government agencies, such as the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and Home Development and Mutual Fund (HDMF)?
After payment or remittance of contributions to these agencies, the employer has to make sure that the employees’ contributions are properly “posted” to their individual accounts. I heard some employers ask, “Why should I be burdened to make sure that the contributions of my employees are posted by the different government agencies to my employees’ individual accounts? What does “posting” even mean? Doesn’t my responsibility end after I made sure I deducted the correct employee’s share in the contributions, matched it with my share and remitted the amount to government agencies?”
“Posting” refers to the process of keeping individual ledgers for each employee in the government agencies’ systems. Each employee’s ledger should be updated so as to reflect the monthly contributions, loan payments, etc., even if the employee changes employment or transfers from one company to another. For posting to occur, an employer must have the complete and correct identification numbers from these different government agencies.
Under the current system, each employee should secure government numbers (one each from the SSS, PhilHealth and HDMF) for the purpose of paying contributions or obligation to, or availing of benefits from, these government agencies. The provisions of the Social Security Law state that “each employer shall require, as a condition to employment, the presentation of a registration number secured by the prospective employee from the SSS.” (PhilHealth and HDMF apparently have no similar provisions.) However, since there is a battle for talent especially in the BPO industry, employers are very focused on onboarding qualified candidates at the soonest possible time, and compliance with registration with these agencies takes a back seat and, in some instances, attended to after the hiring. With the urgency gone, employees are often no longer very keen in going through each tedious registration process.
At this point, it is worthwhile to ask, “What happened to the government plan to unify or issue a single ID for the different government agencies?” A new employee would have not minded getting a single ID for at least the three government agencies instead of applying for all of them separately.
What we observed in our payroll outsourcing business is that most employers are paying the statutory contributions of their employees religiously. However, if one (even just one) of the company’s employees has no government number (e.g. SSS number) or has an erroneous government (SSS) number, the contributions for all the employees will not be posted. Thus, while there was actual remittance to the SSS (in this particular example) by the company, all the employees’ SSS ledgers will not be updated. In that case, any employee of this company will not be able to avail of an SSS loan or any SSS benefit because of unposted remittances.
If the employer is aware that a number of its employees are not yet registered or have yet to provide their registration numbers, it is suggested that the employer segregate the payments of the compliant employees from the non-compliant employees. This will allow the posting of contributions for compliant employees. More importantly, the employer should compel employees to complete their registration within a reasonable period of time from employment. It can offer time-offs to give them an opportunity to process their papers or secure the assistance of available service providers if these employees cannot be relieved from the task they are assigned to perform.
The importance of having the complete and correct government ID numbers needs to be emphasized. As government agencies realize the need to automate their services and are moving into the direction of having (or updating) a computerized system of posting contributions and loans and benefits availments, they also need to require all employees to have government ID numbers for their computerized systems to operate.
The employer has the responsibility and a significant role in making sure the employees’ contributions and related payments and remittances (benefit and loan) are properly posted. Of course, the employees will have to do their part and get their government IDs and should realize that it is in their benefit to have these IDs.
For their part, the government agencies must ensure that the compliance process is smooth and easy. It will obviously help if government agencies can send out reports to employers for the “unaccounted remittances.” Given the advances in technology, their systems should have the capability to automatically screen out the compliant from the non-compliant employees. The unification of registration numbers may also trim the process and lead to a one-stop shop accreditation unit.
Paz Malubay is a partner of P&A Grant Thornton and executive vice president and managing director for Payroll of P&A Grant Thornton Outsourcing Inc. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 20 partners and over 800 staff members.
As published in The Manila Times, dated 16 November 2016