By Genalyn Kabiling
Government workers volunteering in the mega coronavirus swabbing centers will be given a duty allowance based on a new order issued by President Duterte.
In Administrative Order No. 31, the President approved that the COVID-19 duty allowance for volunteer personnel will not exceed the amount of P500 per day plus a maximum of 25 percent of monthly basic salary per person.
Four mega swabbing facilities (MSFs) are currently located in Enderun Colleges in Taguig City, Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Mall of Asia in Pasay City and Palacio de Maynila in Manila. These health facilities were built by the government in the partnership with the private sector in a bid to trace patients with the viral illness.
“In response to the call for volunteers, a number of government personnel have been enlisted to work in MSFs and other designated COVID-19 swabbing and test result processing facilities where exposure to health risks is an occupational hazard,” the order read.
“The grant of the COVID-19 Duty Allowance shall be effective from the beginning of operations of MSFs and other designated swabbing and test results processing facilities,” it added.
Under the new AO, the national government agencies and government -owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) are authorized to grant their volunteer personnel deployed in swabbing facilities a duty allowance.
The P500 allowance will depend on the number of days deployed in these swabbing centers during the quarantine period.
The maximum of 25 percent of monthly basic salary per person will be pro-rated based on the number of days the personnel is deployed to the facility.
Volunteers deployed for three to seven days will get 25 percent of the incentive while those who serve 8 to 12 days will be get 50 percent. They will be entitled to 75 percent of the incentives for 13 to 17 days in MSFs while 100 percent for those serve for 18 days or more.
AO 31 noted that personnel entitled to hazard pay and other similar benefits shall continue to be entitled to the COVID-19 duty allowance whichever is higher. It also said the period of mandatory quarantine of government personnel after their deployment to the MSFs will be “on official time.”
The President has also imposed certain conditions on the grant of COVID-19 duty allowance.
The duty allowance may be granted provided the personnel occupy regular, contractual or casual positions or engaged through contract of service, job order or other similar schemes.
Another condition is the personnel have been deployed to the MSFs on the prescribed official working hours by the head of agency during the quarantine period.
The rate of duty allowance must also be based on the number of days an employee is deployed for work or the requisite training as certified by the head of facility, according to the AO.
On funding sources, the President authorized national government agencies to charge against their respective personnel services or maintenance allotments. GOCCs can source the funds from their corporate budget.
The President has designated the Department of Budget and Management to issue supplemental guidelines on the release of the COVID-19 duty allowance as may be necessary.
The latest administrative order, signed by the President last June 15, will take effect upon publication in the Official Gazette or a general circulation newspaper.