Govt proposes 120-day jobless allowance

Kathmandu, August 5

The government has proposed to provide up to 120 days’ unemployment allowance per year to those who are jobless in a bid to uphold people’s right to employment enshrined in the constitution.

The government will start providing the allowance within a year of enforcement of Right to Employment Bill, which was drafted by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Protection and has been forwarded to the Cabinet.

“We have not set the amount for unemployment allowance yet,” said a government source. “We’ll do so based on resources that can be made available for this purpose.”

This initiative is a part of the Prime Minister Employment Programme, introduced through this fiscal’s budget. A budget of Rs 3.1 billion has been allocated in the fiscal to implement the programme.

The allowance will be provided to those aged between 18 and 60 if they are looking for a job and have not found one, according to the draft of the bill. This implies that those who are voluntarily out of the labour market will not qualify for the allowance.

Moreover, none of the family members of the job-seeker should be employed to qualify for the allowance. However, if family members are employed but are earning wages less than that stipulated by the government, they will be eligible for the allowance, states the draft. But family members of former government officials, who are drawing pension from state coffers, and unemployed people whose land holdings exceed the government’s threshold will not be eligible for the allowance.

However, in case of those who find jobs for less than 120 days a year, half of the allowance for the days they were jobless will be provided. This means if a person is employed for 30 days, s/he will receive half the allowance for the remaining 90 days.

Jobless people must register at unemployment service centres, which will be established at local levels, before availing unemployment benefits.

The centres, which will look into what rendered a person jobless, will work as go-betweens and create a link between unemployed people and employers to help the unemployed find a job.

Those unemployed will qualify for allowance if the centre is unable to find a job for them. However, if employers discriminate in hiring jobless people, they will be fined Rs 10,000. The beneficiaries will also be fined if they are found enjoying unemployment benefit by submitting fake documents.

The government will form an unemployment assistance fund in which money to operate the PM Employment Programme will be deposited, adds the draft. The money deposited in the fund will be used to provide unemployment allowance, and operate skills development training centres and other programmes to benefit the jobless.

The government has proposed to form a steering committee under a minister to implement provisions of the law on right to employment. A joint secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, who oversees the PM Employment Programme, will be member-secretary of the committee.