The Ombudsman alerts the Government to the undue application of social protection measures for illness and parenthood
The Ombudsman drew the attention of the Secretary of State for Social Security to two of the social protection measures for illness and parenthood in situations of prophylactic isolation that are not being duly applied by the Institute of Social Security, I.P. (ISS), as well as for the difficulties that self-employed workers (TI) currently face in fulfilling their contribution obligations to Social Security. About a hundred complaints were received on these matters.
The complaints received in relation to social protection in situations of prophylactic isolation allow us to conclude, on the one hand, that various citizens were not subsidized by the ISS for the whole of the period(s) in which this isolation was imposed on them by the health authority. It was noted that there were failures in the payment of the subsidy as of the 15th day and that there was no uniformity in the actions of the ISS district centers, and the Ombudsman emphasized the need for these situations to be corrected with retroactive effects, given that it is the State’s responsibility to assume responsibility for the damage imposed on citizens when it prohibits them from providing their work for preventive reasons related to public health.
On the other hand, it was possible to verify that self-employed workers whose descendants are in a situation of prophylactic isolation are also being harmed in their access to child and grandchild care subsidies. In fact, the ISS refuses these allowances because it believes that the law does not expressly provide for these workers to receive them. However, the Ombudsman argues that they cannot be denied this social protection, especially since, since 2018, self-employed workers have been eligible for childcare and grandchildcare allowances under the social security system, so excluding them from this benefit, in a situation of social emergency such as the one we are experiencing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, makes no sense.
Finally, the Ombudsman drew the attention of the Secretary of State for Social Security to the dramatic situation in which many self-employed persons find themselves, above all those who have benefited from the extraordinary support for social protection foreseen in article 325-G of Law no. 2/2020, of 31 March, added by Law no. 27-A/2020, of 24 July. In January, we had already sent a letter drawing attention to some issues related to this support, which now have a new reflection on the situation of self-employed workers who are forced to pay contributions in an amount that does not reflect their current income and commits them to fulfill their contribution obligations.
Most of these workers were expected to resume their activity at the beginning of 2021, but with the new confinement to which the country has been forced, they have been forced to resort once again to extraordinary support, and many of them are currently subsisting on the minimum value of the extraordinary support to workers’ income (€50.00) and are required to pay €65.75 in contributions, and it is true that some were not even able to benefit from the previous support during the planned six months.
In view of the distressing reports, the Ombudsman thus stressed the need for new measures to be adopted to prevent these workers from falling into debt and compromising their professional and personal careers in the future.
The letter can be consulted here
[in Portuguese only].