Labor and Employment Secretary and ECC Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III recently announced that the benefits and services of the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP) have been extended to self-employed compulsory members of the Social Security System (SSS).

“We recognize that most self-employed members of the SSS are also workers who need to be protected in time of work-connected sickness, injuries, or death.  Since the creation of the ECC in 1975, the EC Program has been limited only to workers in the formal economy, so it’s high time to expand the coverage of the program, for after all, they are likewise considered as part of our workforce,” Bello said.

A report from ECC Executive Director Stella Banawis to the DOLE Secretary mentioned that under the EC Program, a self-employed member of the SSS will receive loss of income benefits, medical benefits, carer’s allowance, and rehabilitation services, in the event of work-related sickness or injuries.

Rehabilitation services under the EC Program involve the provision of remedial treatment, entrepreneurial or vocational assessment and training.  These services are designed to meet the individual needs of each person with a work-related disability (PWRD) to restore him to suitable employment and develop his mental, vocational, or social potential.

If the worker died because of work-related sickness or injury, his or her beneficiaries would receive death pension and funeral benefits.

According to Bello, a self-employed worker is one engaged in any trade or business or occupation, who has no employer other than him or herself, and derives an income of at least P2,000 a month from his or her physical and mental efforts, and who is not over 60 years of age, during the time of initial coverage.

The following are considered as self-employed individuals who are entitled to avail of the benefits of the EC Program;

  • Self-employed professionals who have their own business offices;
  • Partners, single proprietors of businesses, and Directors or Trustees of the Board of corporations duly registered with appropriate government agencies;
  • Actors, directors, scriptwriters, and news correspondents who do not fall within the definition of the term ‘employee’ in Section 8(D) of the SS Law;
  • Professional athletes, coaches, trainers, jockeys, individual farmers, and fisher folks;
  • Workers in the informal sector such as market and ambulant vendors, transport workers, and those similarly situated;
  • Contractual and job order personnel engaged by the government through a Contract of Service and who are not covered under the GSIS Law; and,
  • Any other self-employed as determined by the Social Security Commission is subject for compulsory coverage, if for initial membership.

As of March 2018, there are about 36.3 million workers registered under the SSS. About 12.4 percent of the registered members of the SSS or 4.5 million are self-employed workers.  On the other hand, the 2018 PSA Labor Force Survey indicates that 11.07 million or 26.9 percent of the total working population of the country are self-employed without any paid employee.

To be covered under the EC Program, self-employed workers shall register for SSS membership at the nearest SSS branch. Their coverage under the EC Program will start as soon as they pay their first EC contribution.

The amount of EC contribution that they will pay will depend on the corresponding monthly salary credit of the amount of earnings that they will declare at the time of registration.  Self-employed members will pay P10 per month if they have a monthly salary credit (MSC) of P14,500 or below, and P30 per month if they have a MSC of P15,000 and above.

Self-employed members may avail of simultaneous benefits under the EC program and the SSS for the same contingency, provided that they are qualified to get the benefits under each program.

“With this development, the ECP will be able to serve more Filipino workers,” Banawis said.