By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE National Insurance Board is now on “orange alert,” meaning the agency has streamlined processes to protect its more vulnerable customers and limit risks to staff in the wake of the threat of COVID-19.
“The National Insurance Board (NIB) has activated its business continuity plan to address potential business disruptions, which may come as a result of COVID-19. NIB has been in contact with the national co-ordinating committee to ensure that the necessary actions are consistent with the national response,” NIB announced in a press release.
The new measures include the suspension of face-to-face pension verification, however the agency will not prioritise suspension of benefits due to non-verification. NIB is also urging all beneficiaries who receive payment by cheque to complete the agency’s direct deposit form, found on its website, to designate a bank or credit union account to facilitate continued payments in the event of a business disruption due to COVID-19.
“Please ensure that you are providing the full and correct account details (branch and account number) rather than the debit card number,” NIB advised.
NIB is also temporarily suspending smart card renewals, face-to-face interviews for new claims submissions and registration for the employer self services portal.
Ghion Roach, president of the Union of Public Officers, which represents workers at NIB, said he is satisfied with NIB’s efforts to protect his members thus far.
“Well the board has already reduced the flow of traffic,” the union president said. “They have already set up critical areas for staff to work remotely, so people can work from home if they don’t need to be in office. They have done the necessary precautionary steps whereas things like gloves and sanitiser are concerned.
“A total shutdown of NIB will have to come from Cabinet, but I must say the union is very satisfied with the efforts made to protect our members thus far. I am telling my members, those that don’t feel well, not to come to work. The board has also agreed to relax policies as it relates to sick time and vacation, so I am very satisfied with their response. I would say they have done every shy of just locking the doors.”
Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country had risen to three.