Senator Cynthia Villar is pushing to set a minimum wage for nurses in private hospitals.
Villar recently filed Senate Bill No. 1837 as she sought to address the disparity between the salaries of nurses working in the government and in private hospitals.
In filing the measure, she said that Republic Act No. 9173, the "Philippine Nursing Act of 2002," has upgraded the wages of entry-level nurses in government hospitals to Salary Grade 15, or a minimum of P32,053 to a maximum of P34,801 per month.
"However, this does not include nurses working in the private hospitals," Villar said.
"The nurses working in private hospitals continue to receive meager salaries. While they are burdened with long hours of work and constantly exposed to health risks, the low salaries they receive do not reasonably and fairly recompense them," she lamented.
"It is time to show our gratitude to our nurses by making their salaries and benefits not only commensurate to the services they provide but also comparable to those of government nurses," she said.
The bill proposes to direct the Department of Labor and Employment's National Wages Productivity Commission (NPWC) to set a minimum wage exclusively for nurses in private hospitals.
In setting the minimum wage, the following factors should be considered:
1. The cost of living;
2. The wage established for work in the public sector or in other jurisdictions;
3. The location of the private hospital;
4. The private hospital's bed capacity; and5. Fair return of the employer's capital.
A public hearing shall be conducted by the NPWC to consult all stakeholders before it sets the minimum wage.
Nurses who are receiving salaries higher than the minimum wage that will be set by the NWPC shall be adjusted and increased accordingly.
The nurses shall also be entitled to all benefits provided under the Labor Code, Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, and other relevant laws, government rules or regulations.
These include the grant of overtime pay, night-shift differential, hazard pay, subsistence allowance, housing allowance, free annual physical examination, and hospitalization.
The bill also proposes a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million as a penalty for private hospitals or persons who will violate these provisions.
"Any nurse who is a victim of a violation of this Act shall be entitled to back wages and full payment of unpaid benefits, as well as to the refund of attorney’s fees that may have been incurred in enforcing the concerned nurse's claim," the bill stated.
A similar bill has been filed in the House of Representatives by Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, DUMPER PTDA Party-list Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista, and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Yap.