One of the primary functions of the Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board is the distribution of benefit payments. However, for payments to be made and the correct amounts allocated, the information received from employers needs to be accurate. This is why is extremely important that employers submit their R5As/monthly remittance forms and payment by the 14th of each month.
Employers must make deductions on all wages and salaries of all employees, whether they are full-time, part-time, probationary or temporary workers. This includes students working part-time who are 16 and older; who work during Christmas or summer vacation, on weekends or after school. Section 19 of the Social Security Act (Cap. 408) provides for all persons between the ages of 16 and 59 to be insured and so shall remain for life.
It is therefore the responsibility of every employer to ensure that all new employees are in possession of a valid Social Security card. At present, the re-registration process for Social Security cards is ongoing. This means that both the pink cards and the new cards with the photo are currently valid until the re-registration process is complete.
Employers should note that work permits are employer specific. This means that if someone has a work permit for Co. L from Jan 1, 2011, until Jan 1, 2012, if that individual leaves Co. L in November of 2011, the work permit is no longer valid. Meaning, should the individual get a job with Co. D in December 2011, Co. D is responsible for ensuring that said individual gets a work permit for Co. D. This is important to note as this impacts an individual’s ability to register with Social Security.
For the purposes of Social Security, deductions from employees’ wages and salaries are called contributions, meaning that an employee, who works for six months or 26 weeks, will have 26 contributions while working for the entire year or 52 weeks will result in 52 contributions. This is important to note as qualifying conditions for Social Security benefits tied to an employee’s contributions.
Private sector employees contribute three per cent of their weekly/monthly earnings, while their employer contributes five per cent. Public sector employees on the other hand, contribute two per cent of their weekly/monthly earnings while their employer contributes five per cent. The difference in contribution percentage exists as public sector employees are not eligible for sickness benefit, as there is no loss of income during illness. The weekly maximum on which deductions are to be taken is $1,040, while the monthly maximum is $4,500.
For the purposes of Social Security, gross earnings for deductions include the following: overtime; cost of living bonus or allowance; family allowance; long service or incentive pay; commission or profit on sales; gratuities paid by employer; payments for night or shift work.
It should also be noted that whether an employer is working part-time, on probation or simply one or two days a week, the employer is obligated to deduct the necessary Social Security contributions.
Persons often ask if there are categories of workers for whom deductions should not be taken. The following persons are exempted from paying contributions: a married woman who is working for her husband; certain relatives who do not receive a salary or wage, or who live and work in the same house as the employer, so long as the employment is not for the purpose of trade or business; any person who is not a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda and is a member of the armed forces of another country; any person who is not a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda and has diplomatic status; any person employed by an agent paid by commissions or fees or share in the profits, eg real estate agents.
If there is a particular aspect of Social Security that you would like discussed, be it from a local, regional or international perspective, please contact the Social Security office at: Know Your Social Security, Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board, PO Box 1125, St John’s, Antigua, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.