Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Department of Labor and Employment and the Employees Compensation Commission to declare COVID-19 as an occupational disease so that workers can avail themselves of insurance and other benefits that are demandable under the Employees Compensation Act and Employees Compensation Program.
“Workplaces and mass transportation are the new ‘hot spots’ of virus transmission,” Hontiveros said.
She said the government should immediately act on calls to make ‘occupational disease’ and COVID-19 to ensure that the workers who will contract the disease while at work or in transit “will be compensated under the national policy for employment injury benefits.”
Hontiveros said once Covid-19 is listed by the ECC as a work-related disease, workers will be entitled to medical benefits, compensation for lost income and even funeral services in the event that they die from the disease.
This measure, according to the Senator, is very crucial especially with the rising cases and spread of new variants of COVID-19 that led to the imposition of stricter quarantine protocols in the National Capital Region, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal.
Hontiveros also said there may be no infection in the work place but a worker may be infected in transit to and from his work place. She believes that this should also be compensable.
The Senator said the unified workplace and community disease surveillance database, a mandate she introduced in the 2021 budgets of DOLE, Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Health, should help ECC establish that the COVID-19 was indeed acquired at the work place.
Hontiveros, who filed the Balik-Trabahong Ligtas bill in the Senate, also said that had the government prioritized the safety of workers as they went back to their work places, the cost of reviving the economy would not be as heavy and fatal to both the workers and the industry.