Workers who belong to the formal sector who have yet to apply for financial assistance under the Covid Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) could no longer do so. Under DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) formal sector workers affected by the pandemic are entitled to receive P5,000 as cash aid.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) it had been swamped with volumes of requests, adding that the available fund for the program amounting to P1.6 billion is very close to being depleted and will no longer accept applications from employers of formal sector workers for its cash aid program, as the Department of Finance (DOF) begins with the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program. Effective 5:00 pm of April 15, the online application has been closed.

In the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program, the national government is providing a wage subsidy for affected employees of small businesses to help mitigate the impact of the quarantine in Luzon and various local government units. This wage subsidy shall be given for up to two months so that affected small businesses are able to retain their employees during the quarantine period.

Under the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) measure, the government, through the Social Security System (SSS), shall provide a wage subsidy of between 5,000 to 8,000 pesos (based on the regional minimum wage) per month per eligible employee. Applications will be completed by the employer on behalf of their employees. The Social Security System (SSS) will only be accepting applications from April 16, 2020 to May 8, 2020.

Eligibility criteria for small businesses are the size of business and impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on the small business’ operations. The small business must meet both criteria. Businesses that have been compliant with the regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and SSS will be prioritized.

The following small businesses will be prioritized: BIR-registered and complying with tax obligations during the past three years, up to January 2020 and SSS-registered and have paid SSS contributions for the past three years up to January 2020 (the last recorded contribution).

For the small business whether a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship, it must not be in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.

For the Impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ): Small businesses under both Category A (non-essentials) that are forced to stop operations (i.e., temporary closure or suspension of work) and Category B (quasi-essentials) that are allowed to operate a skeleton force can apply for the wage subsidy for employees who are not able to work and did not get paid during the ECQ. Employers in areas where other forms of quarantine have been put in place by the Local Government Unit may also qualify.

Who are eligible? An employee who fulfills all of the following criteria is eligible as follows: must be an employee of an eligible small business;  must be employed and active as of March 1, 2020 but unable to work due to the ECQ;  did not get paid by their employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with DOLE Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020; can be  of   any contract status (e.g., regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, fixed-term) and must be certified by the employer in the application as having met all the above criteria.

The following employees are not eligible are those employees working from home or part of the skeletal force; on leave for the entire duration of the ECQ, whether with or without pay; already a recipient of SSS unemployment benefits, to avoid duplication and those who have settled or in-process SSS final claims (funeral, retirement, death, and total disability).

It is emphasized that priority will be given to employees that are BIR and SSS-registered and compliant with SSS and BIR regulations.  And employees who have received a subsidy from the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) shall be eligible for only the first month of the SBWS to avoid duplication.

The Conditions to avail of the program, the following must be fulfilled. First, small businesses must maintain the employment status of all eligible employee beneficiaries before the ECQ and throughout the SBWS period. This will be checked during the monitoring and evaluation stage. Non-compliance with this condition shall result in the employer refunding to the government the wage subsidy amount and second, employees cannot resign during the ECQ period.

All eligible employees of eligible small businesses shall be given a wage subsidy of 5,000 to 8,000 pesos per month (depending on their region of work) for up to two months, depending on the extent of the ECQ. In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the eligible employee will receive P 5,500.00.

The important dates to remember. The application period is from April 16 to 30, 2020 and the first tranche of payout is on May 1 to 15, 2020. The second tranche of payout is on May 16 to 31, 2020. The schedule may change depending on the timing of the ECQ.

The modes of payment are the following: withdrawal via employee’s SSS UMID cards enrolled as ATM;  withdrawal from employee’s bank account for PESO net participating banks; employee’s Union Bank Quick Card (partnership with SSS); employee’s E-wallet: Pay Maya and cash pick-up arrangement through remittance transfer companies.

For more inquiries please visit the following websites DOF:   //    BIR:        SSS:

END/Patrick T Rillorta