Some maids and cleaners are still unsure of the benefits of joining the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), even as the fund reaches out to domestic workers to encourage them to register as members.
Lim Sokleng has been employed as a maid for more than two years, but says she has not received an NSSF card. Her employer told her that she has been registered, but she is unclear about the process.
“My boss registered me through the NSSF app by scanning my ID card. When I scanned my ID card, it does not appear in the system, and it has been more than a month. I don’t know what to do – my boss just told me to wait,” she added.
Despite not having the card, she was not concerned because she had not had any reason to use one.
Yim Sothy, president of the Association of Domestic Workers (ADW) viewed the NSSF as a positive sign that the government was paying attention to the wellbeing of all workers. In the past, it seemed like they had fallen through the cracks of the social welfare system, but now the social security fund was working to register as many of them as possible.
“One difficulty that some of our member have come across is employers who believe that no contract is in place, because they were hired through a verbal agreement. According to the Ministry of Labour, even though a contract is made orally, it remains a legally binding contract. As long as they are employed, their bosses are obliged to make contributions,” she said.
She added that some employers were aware of their obligations, but still did not register their workers. At the same time, some domestic workers were unaware of their entitlements, or were concerned that demanding to be registered could jeopardise their employment.
She also said that even though the NSSF cards covered public hospitals – and were partnered with some private clinics – there were still some gaps in the system, especially for first-time users. Some service fees vary depending on the contribution period.
“The government should conduct a review each time it issues cards, so they can make sure the system is as efficient as possible. If some users find that it is costing them more than they expect, they may opt to keep their contributions and shop around for medical services, should the need arise,” she added.
Heng Sophannarith, deputy director-general of the NSSF, responded to her concerns, suggesting that the overall problem appeared to be a lack of clear understanding about the obligations of employers and employees.
He said that the NSSF is working to solve the problem.
“In response to criticisms of the NSSF service, I believe they are relying on anecdotal evidence. A person who was neither sick nor involved in an accident at work has no actual experience of the system. They are responding to hearsay, and this demonstrates they lack a depth of knowledge on the system,” he added.
He continued that many of the wrinkles had been ironed out of the NSSF. Once members understood the correct procedure for the use of the service, they would find it very easy to access healthcare.
According to a 2018 ILO study in Cambodia, estimated 240,000 domestic workers were employed in the Kingdom, most of them women. They are predominantly employed as cleaners, cooks, laundresses, carers and gardeners.