Hontiveros to job recovery task force: promote COVID-19 free workplaces.

Published February 14, 2021, 2:59 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The government should do more to promote and ensure that workplaces are safe, healthy and free from COVID-19, Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Sunday.

(Mark Balmores, MB FILE)

Hontiveros addressed her appeal to the newly-created Inter-Agency Task Force on National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), which is tasked by government to  address the record-high unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let’s make sure that our offices, factories and other workplaces would not become COVID-19 hotspots.  Hopefully, more establishments can reopen and get back in business without causing a spike in COVID-19 infections,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

The senator said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which is part of the NERS task force, should see to it that companies are enforcing strict guidelines on physical distancing, wearing of masks and regular disinfection of common equipment in all workplaces.

She pointed out data from DOLE itself revealed that 20 percent or one in five workplaces still do not comply with occupational safety and health protocols.

The lawmaker stressed it is imperative that establishments comply 100 percent with COVID-19 protocols so Filipino employees would feel confident in their return to work amid this pandemic.

“They should have the peace of mind that they will not get sick or put their families at risk,” she said.

At the same time, Hontiveros said the Department of Interior and Local Government, another component of the task force, should bolster its contact-tracing efforts in the country so quarantine protocols can effectively be implemented to avoid further infections in the workplace.

“The better we are able to protect our workplaces, the sooner we will be able to reopen all offices, factories, stores and other establishments,” she said.

“We all want to revive our battered economy.  But it would be faster to bring back our country to its feet if we do our part and promote safety measures,” she pointed out.

Hontiveros also urged Congress to expedite the passage of Senate Bill No. 1441 or the proposed “Balik Trabahong Ligtas” bill to enable improved measures aimed at helping protect the health of Filipino workers.

The bill primarily seeks to ensure full PhilHealth coverage for the hospitalization costs of employees infected with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases during their work, as well as free COVID-19 testing for workers in companies with 50 or more personnel. Under the bill, workers are also provided additional paid sick leave days if they are unable to report to work due to infection control protocols. The bill also seeks to grant P1-million insurance payment to  the family of a worker who dies from COVID-19 or other infectious disease.