As the year 2022 comes to a close, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) saw another year of big leaps as it unwaveringly hurdled new challenges in the face of the pandemic with the help and support of all the hardworking Filipino workers and their employers.
ECC made sure to constantly revisit its existing programs and craft new ones that provide comprehensive solutions to the changing needs and demands of Filipino workers in both the private and public sectors; such responses to clients’ real time concerns include programs that boost the morale of all persons with work-related disabilities (PWRDs).
Bearing the standards of a quality public service, ECC vows to keep its safeguards in place to protect the Filipino workers and provide them only the best, meaningful, and relevant benefits, and services through the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP).
In 2022, these initiatives are reflected on the number of Employees’ Compensation (EC) claims provided to hundreds of thousands of workers and/or their families around the country who experienced work-related contingencies.
The constant need to develop more structured programs and services leads ECC to a more promising future for social protection that is adequate to meet the evolving challenges of our workers.
Below are some of the notable actions collectively taken by the ECC in 2022.
EC Benefits Claims and Payments
According to the September 2022 data from ECC’s administering agencies, the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government System Insurance System (GSIS), a total of 316,640 EC benefits claims were approved and released to claimants in the amount of 1.91 billion pesos.
Of the said claims granted to workers, 128,717 were due to sickness; 15,396 due to disability; 167,822 under death and pension claims; 500 for funeral benefits; 4,205 for medical services including medical reimbursements; and 500 for the one time financial assistance to qualified EC pensioners.
ECC’s Quick Response Program
ECC has made great strides in 2022 with respect to expanding its program to workers who contracted CoVID-19.
In addition to the primary EC benefits provided by the SSS and GSIS under the ECP, the ECC Quick Response Program (QRP) in the form of cash assistance intends to provide workers and their families with immediate financial support, as an ancillary benefit.
Claimants with approved EC claims from the Systems are eligible for an additional P10,000.00 for sickness claims and P15,000.00 for beneficiaries in case of work-related death claims. EC cash assistance, unlike principal EC benefits claims, is currently managed by the ECC Central Office.
ECC is pleased to report that, as of December 2022, a total of P105.84 million in cash assistance benefits were granted to a total of 10,537 beneficiaries. A total of 9,946 of these approved applications were due to CoVID-19 cases.
With the increasing number of cash assistance applications in recent years, ECC is now considering alternative modes of disbursing cash assistance claims in addition to the traditional releasing of payment via checks for a faster and more efficient disbursement process. Here, the benefit will be transferred directly to the claimants’ electronic accounts. This is also to mitigate the risks of contracting diseases that can be acquired thru face-to-face interactions.
EC Katulong at Gabay sa Manggagawang may Kapansanan (KaGabay Program)
In order to provide comprehensive coverage under ECP, other EC programs are being offered to workers, particularly those who have become physically challenged as a result of a work-related illness or accident. ECC continues to provide rehabilitation services such as free physical, psychosocial, and occupational therapy, provision of prosthesis and other assistive devices, enrollment of PWRDs in entrepreneurship programs, distribution of business starter kits worth P20,000.00 and an additional P10,000.00 complementary kit.
This year, 103 PWRDS received physical and occupational therapy services. Of this batch, 60 PWRDs were given prosthesis or assistive devices or 94% of the target.
To ensure that they are equipped with new knowledge and skills after sustaining physical disabilities, ECC facilitated the enrollment of 142 PWRDs in livelihood skills trainings, which is a pre-qualifying requirement for the grant of an EC livelihood starter kit.
The KaGabay program remains committed to its mission of not only providing guidance to PWRDs but also reintegrating them into the economic mainstream. In fact, 103 PWRDs who were previously provided with EC livelihood starter kits, continue to grow their recently opened business.
Aside from the free therapy sessions, 75 PWRDs were also provided with transportation and meal allowances (TMA) for PT/OT sessions amounting to P498,000.00.
The various ECC services is an evident recognition of PWRDs’ full and equal rights as vital members of the society. It emphasizes their contribution to the country’s workforce, which is a major driver of economic activity.
ECC vows to enhance its existing programs and develop new ones that will have an immediate, direct, and significant impact on the lives of people with work-related disabilities. Despite physical limitations, ECC hopes to empower and assist all PWRDS in the country in reaching their full potential.
Disposition of EC appealed Cases
Aside from providing monetary benefits, the ECC has quasi-judicial authority to decide on cases brought before it for review. Thus, in exercising this power, the ECC for 2022 was able to dispose 96% or 71 out of 74 appealed cases. Likewise, 83% or 57 out of 69 cases were disposed within the 20-working day process cycle time.
These cases were lengthily studied by medical and legal experts to ensure that all cases are resolved effectively.
Employees’ Compensation Program Public Awareness Program
With the rise of digital media, the need to strengthen the external campaign for public awareness of ECP has become more apparent. As a result, ECC continues to innovate in the way it disseminates information to the public.
In 2022, ECC was able to organize 168 ECP advocacy seminars, which is 140% of its 120 target. These seminars were attended by 6,565 workers and 5,023 companies nationwide.
In addition to these advocacy seminars, ECC participated in and attended a total of 705 webinar invitations to further promote the ECP. These webinar invitations brought together 18,062 companies and 31,499 workers across the country.
ECC, ISO Re-certified
ECC maintained its ISO certification after its acquisition of ISO 9001:2008 certification in 2015 for its brand Quality Management System (QMS). Such certification covers core processes of ECC such as development and review of policy on EC program, disposition of EC appealed cases, rehabilitation of PWRDs, and information dissemination. Other areas of its management and support processes including a number of regional extension units were also included.
Recently, ECC passed the second surveillance audit where its certification was upgraded to ISO 9001:2015 standards.
Enhancements in Benefits
ECC is continuously expanding its membership under the EC program. The most recent of this is the expansion of coverage of EC program to the self-employed compulsory members (SE members) of SSS under ECC and SSS joint memorandum circular no. 1, s. 2020. This provides them the opportunity to also become members of ECC. The membership for this category officially kicked off in September 2020.
With this recent move by the Commission, about 3.36 million SE members can be entitled to all EC benefits claims provided to the regular EC members. These benefits include EC sickness, disability, death with funeral, medical reimbursement, cash assistance, rehabilitation services which also provide for EC livelihood trainings and starter kits for PWRDs.
To maximize the availment of these benefits, ECC Board Resolution number 22-06-15 essentially prescribe and reiterate the provisions in PD 626 which require both SSS and GSIS to make a periodic actuarial examination and valuation of its funds in accordance with accepted actuarial principles.
Aside from these, Board Resolution numbered 19-11-42 promulgates the policy on expanding the coverage to land-based overseas Filipino workers who are registered members of the SSS.
ECC also hopes to implement the increase of daily income benefit for EC temporary total disability both in the public and private sector once approved by the Office of the President.
All hands-on-deck for ECC as it moves farther with better visions for the future of the Filipino workers.
Awards and Citations
ECC’s adoption and implementation of relevant services have been met with recognition from various local and international award-giving bodies. These find its place in the list of the ECC milestones in the recent years. The following are the citations made by the different organizations recognizing the contributions of ECC to members of the civil society and public sector—Certificate of Appreciation from the Army Signal Regiment, Philippine Army (February 23, 2022); Special Citation from Radio Mindanao Network for “Easy lang sa ECC!” program (March 21, 2022); Certificate of Recognition from Resorts World—Safety and Security Department (March 22, 2022); Certificate of Recognition from Tuguegarao City Local Government (March 31, 2022); Certificate of Recognition from the Department of Education (April 20, 2022); Platinum Award from the Department of Labor and Employment (April 22, 2022); Tripartite Partnership Award from the Department of Labor and Employment (May 01, 2022); Certificate of Recognition from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, Archdiocesan Ministry for Labor Concerns (November 06, 2022); and Strategic Communication Award from the ASEAN Social Security Association (November 24, 2022).
These achievements have boosted ECC’s commitment to escalate the quality of service and ignite its mission in championing the welfare of Filipino workers
ECC will continue to strive for excellence. There is still much work to be done for Filipino workers. That is why, ECC is constantly looking in the future with programs that are anchored on its mission to bring significant impact not just to the lives of the workers but to all employers as well.
To help our PWRDs move forward, ECC’s management is presently enhancing its ‘Return-to-Work’ Program. The program will directly benefit our PWRDs whose acquired disabilities pose challenges on how they could bounce back to their normal lives.
With the proposed reorganization, ECC together with the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) will continue to be more responsive to workers’ concerns by providing relevant package of benefits while designing more comprehensive and inclusive coverage under the EC program.
In terms of financial stability of the State Insurance Fund (SIF), ECC had a notable performance in 2022, with total reserves of P7.29 billions of SSS-managed SIF for future payment of EC claims in the private sector and a total reserve of P33.61 billion of GSIS-managed SIF for future payment of EC claims in the public sector.
The torch that fuels the public service will continue to ignite ECC’s determination to serve the Filipino workers. It will not be limited by any future challenges that will come its way. Rather, those will serve as a motivation to always come out with improved services and programs that are hinged on the desire to provide full protection to Filipino workers.
C.Katigbak – CO