By Associated Labor Unions
April 20, 2020
QUEZON CITY – The country's biggest group of unions the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) is calling the Employment Compensation Commission (ECC) to include in their work-related compensation programs and services the hospitalization and death benefits insurance to government and private employees who might be exposed to a new, potent and dreaded workplace hazard COVID-19 inside work establishments and while performing job function.
The COVID-19 employment insurance coverage is important because of the great danger and hazard it poses to returning employees once the Enhanced Community Quarantine is lifted, the group insists.
The ECC is a quasi-judicial corporate entity attached to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) created to implement the Employees' Compensation Program by providing package of benefits for public and private sector employees and their dependents in the event of work-connected contingencies such as sickness, injury, disability or death.
It is tasked by law to develop and implement effective occupational safety and health policies and programs for the promotion of a healthy working population and provide workers and their dependents with benefits and rehabilitation services in the event of work-connected accident, injury, illness and death using a part of the fund from monthly remittance collected by the Social Security System (SSS).
According to the labor federation, the insurance coverage must be in force as soon as the community quarantine is lifted and employees are allowed to return to their places of work.
ALU National Executive Vice President Gerard Seno said the it is important for ECC to classify COVID-19 as a 'dreaded disease' so that formal government and private sector employees who will return to work following once the enhanced community quarantine lockdown order is lifted on April 30th are protected.
"We urge the ECC board to immediately issue a resolution providing insurance coverage for employees in private and government sectors as safety net for workers who might be infected or exposed to the COVID-19 hazard risk on the way or from work and or have been exposed inside the work establishments," Seno said.
The call was made as ALU and other stakeholder labor groups helps the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) draft a COVID-19 occupational safety and health (OSH) guidelines which would serve as the standard protocols for employers and employees in preventing, controlling and managing COVID-19 in workplaces once employees are allowed to go back to work.
Seno said the OSH guidelines must be in place on or before the resumption of work so that workers who will return to work will not be unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19 while in transit and while inside the workplace.
"These guidelines protocols are important for workers working in hospitals, clinics, media stores, restaurants, hotels, public transportation, malls, offices, banks, factories, among others. If these OSH standards are not being followed, thousands of workers, including their family members and co-workers, will be exposed to COVID-19," Seno said.