Senator Joel Villanueva has filed measures seeking to give essential personnel both in the private and public sectors hazard pay, given the risks faced by these workers, especially during this time of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic where virus transmission is very high.

Citing the plight of sanitation workers such as street sweepers and garbage collectors, Villanueva described them as one of the “most vulnerable with low salaries and very little, if at all, protections afforded to them, and yet they continued to work to keep us safe at our homes.”

“Titingnan po ng ating kumite ang mga suliranin ng ating mga front-line personnel tulad ng mga sanitation workers, na nag-ambag ng malaking tulong sa ating laban sa pandemya. Ang mga sanitation workers tulad ng street sweepers at garbage collectors ang ilan sa pinaka-apektado ng mga isyu ng mababang sahod at iba pa,” said the chair of the Senate labor committee.

“We are set to hear these measures that intends to grant hazard pay for workers in critical industries.”

“We will look into this issue as we are set to hear these measures that intends to grant hazard pay for workers in critical industries. We will tackle all the finer points of the bill in the committee hearing so we can strike a balance among stakeholders,” the veteran legislator added, referring to Senate Bill No. 1453.

The bill, which the seasoned lawmaker filed in May, seeks to provide hazard pay for workers providing essential services in critical industries in the private sector. The lawmaker likewise filed a counterpart bill, SBN 1455, to cover government workers, which has been referred to the Senate civil service committee.

SBN 1453, or the bill on Hazard Pay for Workers in Critical Industries Act, would grant covered workers a hazard pay equivalent to 25 percent of their monthly basic salary for the duration of the state of calamity or emergency, or a public health emergency as defined by law.

Covered workers include those in medical and allied health services, banks, morgues, groceries and public markets, pharmacies, restaurants, logistics, food and medical manufacturing, telecommunications, mass media, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, gasoline stations, oil companies, water distribution, sanitation, capital markets, hotels, public transport, civil aviation, and other establishments the government may deem necessary to operate at the time of the emergency, the bill stated.

The bill also indicates that “workers of third-party service contractors such as security guards and janitors, who are deployed to any of the foregoing establishments shall also receive the benefit provided under this Act for the duration of the calamity, emergency or public health emergency.”

On the other hand, SBN 1455 or the Hazard Pay for Government Employees Act, would also grant government workers a hazard pay of at least 25 percent when they are stationed or assigned as frontline personnel during a state of calamity or emergency, or in times of a public health emergency.

The grant is also applicable to those deployed in hazardous areas as determined by the defense department, in difficult areas or hardship posts, medical and allied health facilities, prison and penal colonies, plants and installation of arsenal, aboard aircraft and watercraft in crossing bodies of water, and other similar working conditions determined by the Department of Budget and Management in consultation with the Office of Civil Defense, the Civil Service Commission and other appropriate agencies.

“The government should allocate more funds to support ordinary workers during the health crisis.”

The senator reiterated that the government should allocate more funds to support ordinary workers during the health crisis, adding that public investment on the labor force could make or break the country’s economic recovery.


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