While the country waits for a cure in lockdown, affected employees expect a ‘solidarity vaccine.’
Rabat – Morocco’s government responded strongly to COVID-19 not only to protect the health of its citizens. The country moved one step beyond public health, implementing social initiatives to address unemployment.
There is no clear timeline in sight for resuming normal activities in the country. Moroccans continue to work from home, or their activities are suspended due to the forced shutdown of many businesses.
It is sad to notice that people are not the priority for many companies. The government needs to address this during the crisis.
On April 1, Minister of Employment and Professional Integration Mohamed Amekraz announced that more than 700,000 workers were furloughed, from over 113,000 companies. These employees with suspended activities will benefit from a National Social Security Fund (CNSS) stipend, at a fixed amount near MAD 2,000 ($200) per adult per month. This presents two obstacles.
First, the number of beneficiaries is higher than the Economic Monitoring Committee (CVE) originally anticipated, with 430,000 employees suspended from March through June. Second, the CNSS stipend is ludicrous compared to the cost of living figures presented in the Higher Planning Commission’s (HCP) latest report. The stipend is 30% lower than the country’s minimum wage.
This poses a challenging question: How well will the CVE manage the situation, and is the government sufficiently controlling which companies are eligible to apply for activity suspensions?
The Moroccan labor code presents different approaches to handle this crisis. One is to reduce salaries by a maximum of 50% during 60 days in a given year. Several companies opted for this approach in a time of such uncertainty, while others rushed into cutting off their employees’ benefits, seizing the crisis as an opportunity to “get rid of” expenses.
The government should keep social initiatives on track by running continuous eligibility screenings on the companies who decide to declare activity suspensions. This should happen now, not after the crisis.
COVID-19 is putting a growing number of workers through the most stressful situation of their careers. Companies should care first about their people, because human resources are the key element to a successful recovery.