MORE workers will fall into the unemployment insurance net if the Ministry of Labour goes ahead with plans to expand coverage to jobs in companies with all forms of ownership and labour contracts. The ministry is also proposing to strengthen the management of the unemployment insurance fund and to set aside appropriate reserves in the fund, the China Information Press reported yesterday. However, the state will fix the maximum period of protection being offered and will not provide unlimited support to the jobless as it used to do. Under the reform proposals, the insurance expenses will be met by the state, businesses and workers. With companies under all forms of ownership being covered, foreign-invested enterprises will be told to make contributions to cover the insurance. Earlier, an official survey showed that workers in joint ventures were more dissatisfied with their unemployment protection. The newspaper reported that the Labour Ministry planned to expand the scope of unemployment protection in the forthcoming Ninth Five-Year Economic Plan. The unemployment insurance fund will be mainly used to relieve the living problems of the jobless. Re-employment projects would be financed as well. The new reform suggests that the dole be linked to the standard of the minimum legal wage. The ministry also wants unemployment insurance benefits to be cut after 24 months. The length of time an unemployed person can enjoy insurance should be linked to the length of employment, the ministry suggests. The ministry wants an effective monitoring mechanism to be set up for the insurance fund. Supervision and inspection on the auditing and implementation of the fund would also be stepped up. The Chinese authorities have been trying to reform the unemployment insurance system in a bid to relieve the state burden on social security as well as to contain worker unrest in view of more expected layoffs. Last year, registered unemployment reached 1.87 million. The figure this year is expected to more than double. About 8.3 billion yuan (HK$7.62 billion) in unemployment benefits has been distributed to 3.54 million people in the past eight years.