By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Imported workers in Macau may be able to choose to contribute to the Social Security Fund (FSS) in exchange for medical benefits in the future.
After yesterday’s meeting with the government representatives, president of the Third Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly Cheang Chi Keong told reporters the proposal regarding non-local workers’ social security contributions had not yet been confirmed, and will largely depend on the intention of the SAR government.
The proposal will be part of the bill to revise the social security system being discussed in the standing committee.
In addition, Cheang said the standing committee proposed to eliminate the current requirements set in the government-drafted bill for local residents wishing to become non-employee beneficiaries of the FSS.
At present, the bill says that FSS beneficiaries could be either employees or non-employees. While the employees could be a Macau permanent or non-permanent resident, non-employee beneficiaries must have to be a Macau permanent resident, at 22 years old or above and be physically in Macau at least 183 days in each of the two years immediately before the applications are submitted to FSS.
This coverage of beneficiaries does not include imported workers, who currently have to make monthly contributions to FSS
Cheang said it is “impractical” for a non-local worker to make a 30-year contribution, as their stay in Macau is not long-term.
Therefore, he said that some lawmakers in the committee suggested an individual plan for imported labour to be added into the bill.
Of which, contributions will be non-mandatory and instead of giving out age pensions, medical and accidental death benefits will be provided for this group of non-local beneficiaries.
However, Cheang said the standing committee is still studying the proposal and it will up to the government to decide whether or not to accept it.
According to the foreign labour law, imported workers will no longer be required to contribute to FSS, after their employers pay the fees for the employment of these workers, Cheang said.
Meanwhile, the standing committee presented a new definition of non-employee beneficiaries to the government, wishing to expand the coverage to Macau non-permanent residents.
The new definition says that “Macau SAR residents performing the obligation to contribute to FSS according to this law are beneficiaries”.
As such, the duration of stay in Macau and the 22-year-old age restrictions will also be removed.
Cheang said the lawmakers deemed the requirement of the “183 days of stay in each of the two years before applications” did not make sense, since it indirectly allows the beneficiaries to leave Macau completely after the applications are approved.
Cheang also said the government explained that the 22-year-old limit was set based on the assumption that local people usually finish university at 22 years old and then start working, thus they should have the financial ability to make monthly contributions onwards.
Yet, the standing committee did not agree with the government, since people as young as 16 years old are allowed to work in Macau based on the labour law.
“So why can’t they let these people contribute to the FSS earlier?” Cheang said.
The committee president said no consensus was reached yesterday regarding the change in the definition of non-employee beneficiaries.
Cheang said it is hoped that the government can clarify their stance in the next meeting going to be held at 10.30am on March 10 at the Legislative Assembly.