COVID-19 now a compensable work-related disease – Bello

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino workers who had been infected with COVID-19 will receive appropriate compensation from the government through the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC).

COVID-19 now a compensable work-related disease

This was announced by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who said the ECC board has approved the inclusion of the coronavirus disease in its list of occupational and work-related diseases.

Bello said the Commission issued Board Resolution No. 21-04-14 on April 6, 2021, specifying the conditions for the compensability of CoViD-19 under Annex A of the Amended Rules on Employees’ Compensation.

“ECC has been consistent in declaring the compensability of CoViD-19 under the ‘increased risk’ theory of the ECP. But because of its commitment to be responsive and relevant to the changing demands of the time, the ECC requested the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) to study on the possible inclusion of CoViD-19 in the ECC’s list of occupational and work-related diseases,” Bello, who chairs the ECC Board, said.

Considering the OSHC’s recommendations and after deliberations with the Department of Labor and Employment and various labor and employer groups, Bello added that the Commission has moved that COVID-19 be considered an occupational and work-related disease.

ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis meanwhile said it is only proper that the Commission formulate and pass policies that will “effectively and efficiently respond to the current situation and changing needs of our workers.”

“We recognize the risk of those who courageously and willingly put their lives on the line as we continue to deal with the CoViD-19 pandemic,” Banawis added.

Early during the pandemic, the ECC, through Board Resolution No. 20-03-07 dated 31 March 2020, has also directed the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to streamline the processing of EC claims of workers for diseases, including COVID-19, that were acquired in the line of duty during outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics.

The SSS and the GSIS serve as the administering agencies of the ECC in the implementation of EC policies and processing of EC claims.

“The ECC is continuously working to improve its policies and services to better serve the Filipino workers, especially during this trying time. We will persist to find ways and come up with measures that will mobilize assistance and respond to the crises brought by the CoViD-19 pandemic,” Banawis said.

With the inclusion of the COVID-19, there are now 33 illnesses in the List of Occupational and Work-related Diseases under the Employees’ Compensation Program.

The ECC also reminded the public that non-inclusion of illnesses in the list does not mean that it is no longer compensable under the EC Program.

Through the Increased Risk Theory concept, illnesses may be compensable if the causal connection between the illness and the nature of work or working conditions can be established.

— The Summit Express

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