The management of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme said it is awaiting legal opinion on whether it is allowed to suspend benefits enjoyed by employees, whose bosses are delinquent in making contributions to the NHI on their behalf.
Deputy Director of the Social Security Board Jeanette Scatliffe-Boynes made the disclosure in an interview with BVI News Online yesterday – weeks after head of the NHI Roy Barry disclosed that employees are being suspended.
He, at the time, stated that he did not know the exact number of persons suspended from the NHI. But Barry noted that all persons employed to some 1,000 delinquent bosses would have been under suspension.
News of the suspension caused widespread outcry as members of the public argued that the employers are the ones who should be punished – not the employees.
Under the law, employers are obligated to deduct the mandatory NHI contribution from their employees wages and then pay it over to the authorities.
Critics of the NHI action also cited Section 31 of Social Security (NHI) Regulations, which states: “The failure of an employer to pay contributions in respect of an employee in accordance with Regulation 28 shall in no way affect the benefits that an employee is entitled to under the NHI system.”
When Minister of Health and Social Security Ronnie Skelton was approached last month about the concerns being raised, he was only prepared to tell BVI News Online that he was not aware of the NHI suspending any employee.
Scatliffe-Boynes, up to yesterday, corroborated the NHI boss’ previous declaration that the suspension is in full effect.
She further told BVI News Online: “The Social Security Board is awaiting legal opinion on the matter of the suspension of benefits. Once legal opinion is received, the Social Security Board will make the decision as to the way forward as it relates to the suspension of NHI benefits.”