What is N.I.S. and what does it do?
The National Insurance Scheme, known to most of the Guyanese population by its abbreviation N.I.S. is a social security organization made necessary through Chapter 36:01 of the Laws of Guyana, titled National Insurance and Social Security.
Its purpose is threefold, including establishing and maintaining a system of Social Security in which there is a secured store of income, that, should one’s employment or earnings be interrupted by sickness or accident, it could serve as a substitute.
The scheme’s second objective is to make provisions for retirement through age or in the event of the sudden and untimely passing of a breadwinner within a family as well as to meet certain exceptional expenses as those that relate to birth or death.
Finally, N.I.S. seeks to make certain that whatever monies that are collected and have to be utilized for payments in the future are further invested in such a manner that there would be great benefit to the economic climate of the country.
Evidence for this is seen in Chapter 36:01 of the Laws of Guyana, National Insurance and Social Security Act which states:
An Act to establish a system of National Insurance and Social Security providing Pecuniary Payments by way of Old Age Benefit, Invalidity Benefit, Survivor’s Benefit, Sickness Benefit, Maternity Benefit, and to substitute for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance, a system of insurance against injury or death caused by accident arising out of and in the course of employment or resulting from disease due to the nature of employment; to establish a National Insurance Fund; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental thereto.
How does NIS work?
The National Insurance Scheme covers for Social Insurance on an obligatory basis to anyone falling between the ages of sixteen (16) and sixty (60) years who is engaged in what is termed as Insurable Employment, as stated in The Laws of Guyana, Chapter 36:01, part III, 11. (1) which simply says:
Subject to this Act (stated above) every person who on or after the appointed day is
(a) Sixteen years of age or over and under sixty years of age; and
(b) Gainfully occupied in Insurable Employment, shall be insured under this act, and shall remain so insured for life.
This coverage is also extended on a voluntary basis, to those persons who discontinue employment even before the age of sixty (60). Others exceeding this age range are also covered but only for industrial benefits whereas those who are self-employed are not covered for Industrial Benefits.
When it comes to contributions towards the scheme, both the employer and employee are expected to pay those to the scheme based on an established Payroll System. For the employed contributor, the total contribution is 14% of the salary paid.
This is obtained from a deduction of 5.6% of the employee’s pay and the remaining 8.4% is paid by the employer on behalf of the employee. In the case of self-employed persons, 12.5% of their declared income is expected as contribution, while voluntary contributors pay a total of 9.3% of their insurable earnings from the last two years of employment.
After all of this, what then are you the employee entitled to?
A majority of persons who have joined the world of work in Guyana would know about the deductions made on their salaries. They remain quite au fait with the terms associated with their employment under certain laws, such as the Pay as You Earn deduction as well as the deduction for N.I.S., among others.
However, quite a few of them actually know what those deductions mean for them; especially for N.I.S.
The scheme in fact can and will provide payments for benefits under three categories; Long Term Benefits, which includes benefits for Old Age, Funeral, Invalidity, Survivors’ and Constant Attendance, as well as Short Term Benefits, inclusive of Sickness and Maternity Benefits along with Sickness Benefit Medical Care.
Industrial Benefits include benefits for Injury, Industrial Death, Disablement and Injury Benefit Medical Care. Each of these require the fulfillment of specific criteria before benefits can be claimed; the majority of which depends on the amount of contributions as well as the sum of the contributions made throughout the course of one’s working life.
Knowing one’s entitlement is key to knowing what claims you can make as well as when you can make them. This however, is only possible if you are fully aware and updated with the amount of contributions that you have made to the Scheme. Many simply go through the motions of paying their contributions without keeping track of them and as such they miss the chance when it comes to rightfully claiming benefits from N.I.S. Thus, as a measure, to prevent the hassle of having to go to the office and waiting in long lines to get that sort of information has been implemented. In 2015, NIS introduced a method of checking the amount of contributions that would have been made for any one person. The database, which was promised to be updated on a quarterly basis, shows the number of contributions for persons registered with the N.I.S. The scheme’s website, www.nis.org.gy, also holds valuable information when it comes to knowing what one’s benefits and entitlements are.