Recognizing the need for improved social protection for vulnerable persons consonant to the DOLE Labor and Employment Plan, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) chaired by Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, approved meaningful policies in 2013 that benefit workers in the public and private sector who are injured or are casualties of work-related contingencies.
Baldoz said that the ECC approved a 10% across the board increase in EC pension for the private sector, benefiting about 20,000 private sector EC disability and survivorship pensioners receiving an average of P3,200 EC pension per month. The Resolution was passed in July 2013 and is awaiting the issuance of a counterpart Executive Order. The last across the board increase in EC pension for the private sector happened in 2000.
The Labor Secretary further said that the EC funeral benefit for both the public and private sectors was increased from P10,000 to P20,000. Dependents of about 600 workers claim for EC funeral benefits yearly. For 20 years since 1993, the amount of EC funeral benefits in the private sector remained at ten thousand pesos (Php10,000) while in the public sector, it was increased to P10,000 in September 2012 (and approved through an Executive Order 135 dated April 23, 2013) from the previous amount of P3,000 which was obtaining since 1987. Executive Orders to implement these new benefits are to be issued by the Office of the President.
“The increase in EC funeral benefit for the public sector will now equalize the EC funeral benefit for both public and private sectors,” Baldoz added.
“The ECC also lifted the suspension of payment of EC medical reimbursement for retired or separated workers in the public sector, benefiting workers whose reimbursement of hospitalization and medicine expenses were suspended as part of the prioritization policy in the payment of EC benefits implemented for the public sector in 2003. This complements the lifting of the suspension in the payment of EC death benefits (survivorship pension) beyond the 5 year guaranteed period for the public sector approved by the ECC Board in July 2012 and now benefiting over 10,000 public sector workers,” the labor and employment chief said.
In 2013, ECC likewise revised the conditions for the compensability of osteoarthritis, amending item no. 24 of the ECC List of Occupational Diseases. Now classified as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), the revised conditions provide a more comprehensive categorization of the variants of MSD that are work-related (other than osteoarthritis only) inorder to facilitate the identification of MSD that are work-related. There is an increasing number of EC cases under MSD that have been approved in the past 2 years.
“As a response to the recent calamities in the Visayas and the call for government to do its share in easing the life of the victims of these calamities, ECC approved the grant of advance three month pension for EC pensioners in the private sector in areas affected by typhoon Yolanda, Bohol and Cebu earthquakes and the Zamboaga crisis. This complements similar measures effected by SSS for its members,” she added.
Secretary Baldoz directed ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis to continue to coordinate closely with its implementing agencies, the GSIS and the SSS, to provide improved services to its customers, particularly the process cycle time in evaluating EC claims. In 2013, ECC likewise issued board resolutions on the following:
- The grant of sick leave benefits and other similar benefits voluntarily provided by employers does not bar the grant of EC temporary or permanent disability benefits.
- For purposes of processing of payment for medical services, government and private hospitals duly licensed by DOH and accredited by Philhealth and physicians duly licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission are automatically deemed accredited by the Commission.
- Submission by the GSIS and SSS of proof of compliance with the decision of the Commission on EC appealed cases to grant EC benefits
- Observance of procedures on elevation of denied EC claims at the GSIS and SSS inorder to facilitate the appeal of denied cases to the ECC.
Meantime, Director Banawis expressed that a review of the adequacy of the present EC benefits will be further conducted in 2014 backed by a stable State Insurance Fund (SIF). The total reserves of the SIF for future payment of EC claims in both public and private sectors stand at P44.44 billion as of September 2013.
Finally, Baldoz said that the ECC will continue to review its benefits and services as part of its commitment to strengthen the role of the EC program in protecting the safety and health of workers and in pooling risks arising from occupational accidents and diseases.