Many employers still not paying S.N.P.F contributions, Union claims
Increasing Samoa National Provident Fund contributions will only end with more money in the pockets of employers.
So claimed Samoa First Union's Senior Organiser, Saina Tomi Setu.
The S.N.P.F intends to raise contributions from 7 per cent to 10 per cent by increasing mandatory payments by just 1 per cent per year till 2021, starting July 1st 2019.
As an employment relations representative for workers across several industries, Ms. Setu said close to half of all cases brought before her are regarding employers not paying their S.N.P.F contributions, which she said needs to be tackled before any increases are made.
“From my experience as a Union senior organiser dealing with a lot of cases regarding S.N.P.F deductions, it’s better for them to not increase but follow up and encourage employers to pay their S.N.P.F contributions,” Ms. Setu said.
She said very often, employee’s payslips are showing S.N.P.F deductions which are not appearing on their S.N.P.F accounts, leaving them high and dry come time for them to try and loan against their accounts.
Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day are all examples of times members line up at the Fund to take out entitlement loans, only to be told their employers have not been making their contributions.
In some cases, Ms. Setu said this covers a number of years.
“What we usually do then is contact S.N.P.F for their statements, then go to see the employer,” said Ms. Setu.
“We have to face them, consult with them and ask why they didn’t pay.”
More often than not, employers do cough up the money they owe the Fund, and to date Ms. Setu has not had to proceed to Court level to get justice for Union members.
But there are still too many employers not fulfilling their legal obligations to pay, she said.
“This means S.N.P.F staff need to work harder. They are doing a good job, but as I say, we really want to encourage those employers to pay.”
When employer members are late paying their staff contributions, S.N.P.F penalises them at a non-compounding rate of 2 per cent per month’s contributions.
Ms. Setu said that should be increased, but also enforced more to lower the rate of non-compliant employers.
Because of the high rate of employees facing this issue, Samoa First Union member’s training sessions include S.N.P.F rights and responsibilities, and educating people on how the fund works.
Ms. Setu said that is critical to making sure people get what they deserve.
If employers were all fully compliant with their obligations, the increase to contributions to 10 per cent over three years could be a great asset for workers, not only for their retirement but for their lifetime entitlement benefits to loans, said Ms. Setu.
“It’s a useful method of getting some help for our people but it’s really sad when workers come and find there is no S.N.P.F contribution made by their employer.
“That’s why we really need to encourage the S.N.P.F staff to try to get those employers who didn’t pay, to pay.”