On 22 February 2021, Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) issued a report on ‘Implementation of Government Allowances in the COVID-19 Pandemic’ which analyses the extent of the Royal Government’s implementation of its employment suspension allowance scheme in the garment and tourism industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notwithstanding the low amounts provided to suspended workers by way of allowance, actual implementation of the scheme has been well-handled by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, resulting in the processing and provision of more than 560,000 payments during the pandemic to more than 320,000 employees. As such, CENTRAL believes that this scheme can serve as a model for future social assistance programs in Cambodia. In particular, the current scheme could be transformed from a temporary measure into a permanent program, ultimately extended to cover all workers in Cambodia.
CENTRAL’s report also found that, whilst garment sector factories comprised the majority of enterprises whose workers received suspension allowances, the trend in recent months has shown a higher proportion of tourism sector companies covered. These trends highlight the prolonged effects of the pandemic upon Cambodia’s tourism industry and reflect recent calls by bodies such as the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents for the need for greater government support in the sector. At the same time, the Ministry of Tourism has reported that the hardest-hit provinces in the tourism industry during the pandemic include Battambang, Svay Rieng and Banteay Meanchey; all provinces not included in the current allowance scheme. With this in mind, we echo the call of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents for greater government support in the tourism sector. In particular, the current scheme should be extended to cover tourism sector workers in all provinces.
The report also notes some discrepancies between the publicly reported figures of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on the number of suspended enterprises in the tourism sector industry. For example, in June 2020, the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Tourism reported that 172 hotels in the province had suspended operations, yet, according to the Ministry of Labour’s allowance notifications, employees at a total of only 30 tourism sector enterprises in Siem Reap had received Royal Government allowances in the month of June. Moreover, workers at a total of only 84 tourism sector enterprises in Siem Reap have received allowances throughout the life of the scheme. As such, CENTRAL encourages the respective municipal and provincial labour departments to actively investigate these discrepancies and ensure workers receive full payments owed for those prior periods of employment suspension.
For further information:
Patrick Lee, Legal Advisor: +855 11 661 081 (WhatsApp/Telegram)
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