The new law widens the scope of the Social Security System. Photo: iStock

Filipino migrant workers are now required to make monthly contributions to the national Social Security System to ensure they will be entitled to a pension fund and other benefits when they eventually return to live in their homeland.

The Social Security Act of 2018, known formally as Senate Bill 1753, widens the scope of the Social Security System to include compulsory coverage for workers abroad, the Manila Bulletin reported. It was recently signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Contributions by migrant workers to the scheme were previously voluntary and only 500,000 have any cover. It is expected that the reforms will see this number grow to more than two million.

“Because contributions were voluntary for migrant workers in the old law, most workers, the majority of whom are in the Middle East, forget to contribute,” said Mark Roue Oliva, the Social Security System representative in Dubai. “So once they retire, they are not qualified to get a pension from the SSS.”

He said the government-run provident fund will benefit migrant workers both on land and at sea, including those in the United Arab Emirates, Gulf News reported. Oliva said the number of Filipinos working in the UAE was somewhere between 600,000 and one million, yet only 4,800 in Dubai and the northern emirates were contributing to the scheme.

Members of the SSS are eligible for a range of benefits apart from the lifetime pension, including salary loans and payments for sickness, retirement, maternity leave, disability, death and funeral costs.

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