Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) started to introduce and approve strong policy responses that are geared towards better implementation of Employees’ Compensation (EC) Program. The Commission continues to live out its commitment to provide an appropriate and responsive package of benefits to all Filipino workers who suffers work-related contingencies.
In 2020, the Commission approved the following policies in response to COVID-19 and in support to the Republic Act No. 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act) to mitigate if not contain the transmission of COVID-19 and provide necessary assistance to the public:
Board Resolution No. 20-03-06: Extending the payment deadline for remittance of EC contributions by employers in view of the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency and State of Calamity throughout the Philippines due to the Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19)
Through this policy, the ECC approved the extension of the deadline for payment of EC contributions from employers, with the same deadline set by the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the payment of their respective program contributions in view of Proclamation No. 922, series of 2020 and Proclamation No. 929, series of 2020 by the Office of the President, which put the country in a state of public health emergency and state of calamity, respectively.
Board Resolution No. 20-03-07: Expediting the processing of EC claims of workers for diseases acquired in line of duty during outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics
The ECC recognizes the need for immediate provision of EC benefits to help workers and their families and prevent or minimize their vulnerability. Through this policy, the SSS and GSIS, ECC’s administering agencies, are directed to hasten the processing and expedite the release of EC benefits to workers who contracted diseases in line of their duty during outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics.
Board Resolution No. 20-04-08: Grant of Advance Pension for EC Pensioners in both public and private sector whose areas were declared under State Calamity
The ECC believes that the automatic grant of three-month advance EC pension will provide an immediate relief to EC pensioners in the event that they are faced with further vulnerability as a result of a calamity declared in their area by the NDRRMC or by way of a Presidential Proclamation or local declaration.
Further, an EC pensioner may opt to apply for an additional two to three months advance pension under this policy subject to application, assessment and approval by the Systems. However, the Commission still awaits the approval of the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines prior to its implementation.
Board Resolution No. 20-07-12: Prescribing guidelines on the interruption of the prescriptive period for the filing of Employees’ Compensation (EC) claims during pandemic, epidemic or public health emergency and other fortuitous events
With the implementation of community quarantines to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the country, the mobility of people in Luzon and in certain geographic areas of Visayas and Mindanao has been heavily restricted which resulted to difficulty of claimants from filing their EC claims.
To address the concern, the ECC approved this policy which prescribes the interruption of the prescriptive period for filing of EC claims in all geographic areas which have been placed under ECQ or MECQ due to COVID19 emergency, during any pandemic such as COVID19 threat or declaration of epidemic or public health emergency as defined under Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 (“Mandatory Reporting and Health Events of Public Health Concerns Act”) and other fortuitous events which would suspend government operations and prevent claimants from filing their EC claims.
Board Resolution No. 20-07-13: Granting of EC funeral benefit to the qualified beneficiaries of covered members who died of work-related causes despite the absence of proof of expenses for funeral services further amending for this purpose Rule XIV, Section 1 of the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation
The ECC finds the urgent need to promulgate a revised policy on the granting of EC funeral benefit to extend the utmost assistance to the qualified beneficiaries of COVID-19 victims who perished in the performance of their duties and, eventually, to expedite the resolution of meritorious COVID-19 cases at the level of the Systems.
In this time of pandemic, the bodies of victims of COVID-19 infections are immediately brought to crematoriums without further burial ceremony and sometimes the funeral expenses are being shouldered by different local government units or other government instrumentalities. Consequently, several qualified beneficiaries of covered members who died of COVID19 infections due to work or the work environment would find it difficult to comply with the submission of proof of expenses for funeral services in the filing of claims for EC funeral benefits.
With this policy, the funeral benefit of P30, 000 will be granted to the qualified beneficiaries of covered members who died of work-related causes in both public and private sectors despite the absence of proof of expenses for funeral services.
Board Resolution No. 20-07-14 and Board Resolution No. 20-08-17: Granting a one-time financial assistance of P20, 000 to EC Permanent Partial Disability (PPD), EC Permanent Total Disability (PTD), and Survivorship Pensioners in both private and public sector
This policy aims to provide an additional assistance to EC pensioners who are experiencing financial hardships because of their vulnerabilities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic despite the Social Amelioration Program and other assistance to workers and individuals of the government. However, this policy is yet to be approved by the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines prior to implementation.
All these policy responses were approved and issued with the goal of protecting Filipino workers from any work-related contingencies especially the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted all facets of life in the Philippines.
The ECC implements and observes health protocols to ensure uninterrupted delivery of service to the public such as but not limited to regular building disinfection, wearing of face masks and face shields, provision of vitamins, and administering of flu and pneumonia vaccines for all ECC employees.
With all these initiatives, the ECC received Certificate of Recognition under the Customer Service Category with its ECC Policy Responses to pandemics, calamities and other fortuitous events from the ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA) during the 37th ASSA Virtual Board Meeting on December 9, 2020 which was hosted by Cambodia’s Social Security Agency.