The Central Government plans to provide unemployment benefits to a section of workers in the organised sector, who may lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers will be covered under the Government’s Atal Beema Vyakti Kalyan Yojana, which provides unemployment insurance. Under ABVKY, workers are eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they are subscribed to the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) scheme. A self-financing health insurance scheme for formal-sector workers in India, ESI is managed by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).
The scheme has been in operation since July, 2018. Workers subscribed to this scheme who become unemployed, are eligible to receive unemployment compensation in the form of cash for up to three months.
The benefit given to workers amounts to 25 per cent of their average salary in the last year of their job.
On the other hand, even though this policy is a ray of hope for unemployed workers, not all workers will be able to avail the ESI benefits. An important condition for availing the benefits is that a worker needs to be a member of the ESIC for at least two years prior to availing the benefit. Moreover, this scheme offers one-time benefit only. Around one million workers were eligible to avail the benefits when the scheme was announced in July, 2018.
The Labour and Employment Ministry may extend the duration of the scheme and allow workers to receive unemployment benefits if they contract the disease.
The Government’s move comes in the wake of measures taken by other countries, such as the United States.