The Jamaican government decided to pay J$54,000 (approximately US$400) in unemployment benefits to each worker who loses his job during three months period starting March 10, when the Caribbean country reported its first COVID-19 case.
Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke has clarified that employees in tourism and BPO sectors are also eligible for the severance pay. However, employees earning more than J$1.5 million (US$11,244) annually will not be paid any benefits.
Also, those who lose jobs from June 30 onwards will not be eligible under the program. The money will be released from the US$74 million contingency package unveiled by the government in a recent parliamentary session.
“Once the applicant is verified, the file will be passed to the accountant general and payment made electronically directly to the bank account of the applicant,” Jamaica Gleaner reported Clarke as saying.
“This is a tough time for tourism. Businesses are struggling with no revenue and, at the same time want to be able to reopen as soon as the storm passes,” he added.
The Finance Minister says the government would also support small businesses with similar grants. However, companies with more than J$50 million in annual revenue will not be benefited.
There are no reports as yet about the impact of COVID-19 on Jamaica’s BPO industry, but the tourism sector has gone quiet, as the country has closed its airports in addition to banning cruise ships.