Employer must pay Covid-19 hospitalization of househelp

MANILA, Jan 20 (Mabuhay) — The Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said employers have to pay the medical expenses of their kasambahay (house helper) who contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Dr. Reynaldo Sta. Ana, the health officer of the OSHC, said it is the responsibility of the employer to take care of the kasambahay once they got sick.

“Based on the DOLE-Department of Trade and Industry guidelines regarding Covid-19. The employer has to take charge in the hospitalization and testing of the kasambahay with regards to Covid-19,” he said in a virtual forum on Monday.

Sta. Ana also said the employer should not terminate a house helper infected with Covid-19.

“It should not be a reason to terminate the kasambahay. They can end their employment if they are not performing their jobs,” he said. “Instead, the employer should have compassion.”

He said employers should help their house helpers to have access to medical facilities “for them to treated and assessed by specialists and help them meet their medical needs”.

The official also reminded the public to always follow minimum health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“We always remind the people especially the members of household of the minimum health standards,” he said.

Underscoring the importance of dialogue in settling labor disputes, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III encouraged kasambahays to file labor-related complaints at the labor department.

This as Bello issued Labor Advisory No. 35, which spells out the procedures on the conduct of mandatory conference, issuance of compliance order, and handling of appealed labor disputes involving kasambahay. The advisory was issued on the eve of the celebration of the Kasambahay law signed in 2013.

The issuance supplements Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2018, which provides guidelines on handling kasambahay complaints or requests for assistance through the Single Entry Approach (SEnA).

SEnA is a mechanism that provides accessible, speedy, impartial, and inexpensive settlement procedures of all labor and employment issues through a 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation.

Under the guidelines, after a request for assistance has been filed by the kasambahay at the DOLE Central/Regional/Provincial/Field Offices or its Attached Agencies, a mandatory conference shall be conducted by the handling officer and the issue shall be resolved within 30 days from the conduct of initial proceedings.

The DOLE reported that 80 requests for assistance (RFAs) involving local kasambahays have been acted upon in 2020 with 62 percent disposition rate.

The issues raised by the kasambahays include illegal termination/dismissal, non-payment of salaries, non-payment of back pay, non-payment of overtime and holiday pay, underpayment of wages, and non-payment of 13th month pay.

The house helpers also asked for assistance on the non-payment of service incentive leave, indemnity pay, separation pay, no day-off, return of personal belongings, and non-remittance of Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance or PhilHealth and Pag-ibig benefits.

Of the 60 settled RFAs, 46 involved payment of monetary benefits to 50 kasambahays amounting to PHP550,285.

DOLE regional offices and National Conciliation and Mediation Board disposed of the RFAs in an average of 15 days. (MNS)

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