Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque reiterated that the public and private health workers diagnosed with the virus may avail of the P150,000 PhilHealth hospitalization benefit, on top of company healthcare benefits if any.
On the other hand, non-health workers such as managers, call center agents, teachers, clerks, etc., and their dependents who are diagnosed with H1N1 may avail of PhilHealth hospital benefits amounting to P75,000. A worker who contracts H1N1 in the performance of his/her work is also entitled to sickness benefits under SSS and employees compensation benefits under PD 626 or the ECC law.
The DOLE earlier called on employers and workers groups to take precautionary measures against influenza A (H1N1) as it formed a task force to strengthen measures aimed at combating an outbreak of the disease in the country's workplaces.
Roque said that in view of the growing number of diagnosed cases of H1N1 in the country, the DOLE deemed it necessary to form the "Task Force on H1N1 in the Workplace" as provided for by DOLE Administrative Order No. 199, series of 2009.
Roque said the task force would serve as the DOLE focal point on H1N1 matters affecting workers and employers pursuant to DOLE Department Advisory No. 04, series of 2009, enjoining employers to institute measures against H1N1 infection and its spread in their workplaces.
He said that the task force would monitor the implementation of the DOLE advisory in workplaces. The advisory asked employers to regularly provide their workers information on H1N1 including its transmission, disease outcome, and treatment options. Companies are also reminded to regularly clean their work areas and make sure that water, soap and disinfectants are available in washrooms and toilets. Delegation of company focal persons who would monitor and ensure that measures against H1N1 are strictly followed at the workplace is highly encouraged.
The DOLE Chief, citing a report from Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte, said the task force has been formed with the Executive Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) as chair and the Directors of Bureaus of Working Conditions (BWC), Labor Relations (BLR), and Women and Young Workers (BWYW), the Employees Compensation Commission, and DOLE regional offices as members.
Trasmonste said the task force would intensively collaborate with labor and employers groups as well as with other government agencies in disseminating information on H1N1 in all workplaces along with issues related to occupational safety and health (OSH) and general labor standards (GLS).
She added that the task force would also assist workers and employers in plant-level risk assessment as well as in putting in place workplace improvements in order to reduce the possibility of H1N1 transmission at the workplace.
At the same time, the task force is in charge of conducting capability-building seminars for HINI focal persons in establishments and organizations that would take steps against H1N1, Trasmonte said as she urged labor and management to send their H1N1 focal persons for training at OSHC, with Tel. Nos. 924-2418/928-6690 and web address at www.oshc.dole.gov.ph.
She said the OSHC has started the conduct of learning sessions on H1N1 in coordination with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, People Management of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, Trade Union of the Philippines and Allied Services and other stakeholders.
She added that the BWC, on the other hand, would provide information on GLS specifically on the treatment of leave of absence of an employee who is asked to stay at home or is served quarantine order for reasons related to H1N1. The worker's leave credits may be charged to his/her annual sick or vacation leave under the company policy or practice or as stipulated in the CBA. If the worker's leave credits have been used up, the employer could consider granting leave of absence without pay as the principle of "no work no pay" applies.
Roque, however, appealed to employers to exercise flexibility and compassion in granting additional leave with pay to workers suspected or already infected with H1N1.