Miércoles, 22 de Noviembre de 2017
12:04 CET.
Labor Law

The State neglects the self employed

Many self-employed workers wonder where the money that they pay into the Social Security system every month ends up.

Respect for worker rights is an issue that has moved to the fore due to the expansion of self employment. In a country where the State once stood as the sole employer, such that budgets and state entities were the guarantors of paid vacations, subsidies and workers' pensions, defining what will happen henceforth, given the advent of private proprietors and their employees, is a pressing issue.

It is in this context that there appeared an article in the newspaper Granma on 20 January. The author of the work criticized the attitudes of some proprietors, allegedly reluctant to recognise certain rights of their employees.

Among the rights mentioned are at least seven days of paid vacation time per year, as well as the guarantee that pregnant women be able to return to their jobs once their breastfeeding periods are over.

The journalist in question, however, is much less critical with regards to state budget obligations towards self-employed workers, particularly concerning the payment of funds to self-employed workers in the event of illness or accidents.

The article in Granma limits itself to citing statements by the first vice-minister of the Work and Social Security Ministry (MTSS), Marta Elena Feitó Cabrera: "When the MTSS carried out studies on short-term protection in the self-employed sector, it concluded that this was not the time to protect workers in the event of short-term conditions, but rather only for long-term cases featuring medical certificates of more than six months."  

In other words, if a self-employed worker falls ill or is injured, and incapacitated for less than six months, he will not receive any type of support. But this stands in contrast to the state's reaction if the worker is a Government employee: they receive 60% of their basic salaries starting on the fourth day of an illness.

This is a double standard that is even more inconsistent when one realizes that most state workers don't even pay into the Social Security system, whereas all self-employed workers, with the exception of the pensioners and those of over the age of 65, are required to pay into it monthly.

Many remember the complaint filed by a self-employed worker from the eastern city of Bayamo just a year and a half ago, which appeared in the letters to the editor of Granma (14 August, 2015). The man suffered a stroke that prevented him from working. What was the response of the governmental authorities?  The municipal body of the MTSS took his self-employed worker credential away, while the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) just deregistered him as a taxpayer. Although the man had punctually paid his taxes and paid into Social Security, they left him without any economic support.

This discriminatory policy which the self employed suffer, along with other policies affecting them - such as, for example, the failure to restore a wholesale market where they can acquire supplies, or the fact that they are not allowed to include all their expenses on their Sworn Personal Income Statements – should be issues addressed by the unions for the self-employed organised by the Government.

But they are not, as these unions prefer to focus on controlling their members and making sure that they pay their taxes on time.

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