GSIS, SSS urged to make COVID-19 illness benefits hassle-free for workers

Published May 3, 2021, 10:26 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday urged the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) to make access easier for workers claiming compensation related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Hontiveros had earlier welcomed the Employees’ Compensation Commission’s (ECC) inclusion of COVID-19 in the list of occupational and work-related diseases.

The next step, she said, is to ensure “seamless” and “hassle-free” process for workers who wish to avail of this benefit.

“We urge the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and the ECC, together with GSIS, SSS, to carry it out as soon as possible so workers won’t have to face much problems in filing claims,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“They must be able to access these benefits especially if they are not earning any compensation due to being hospitalized,” she said.

The senator, likewise, urged the government to embark on a massive information campaign for the awareness of thousands of Filipino workers who may not be familiar with the government’s compensation programs.

Workers, she said, must be advised on the procedures in availing of them, as with other benefits in case of disability or death.

With the Philippines breaching the one million mark in COVID-19 infections last week, she said a social protection mechanism like this is badly needed.

She explained the risk of infection and hospitalization is always accompanied by a probable loss in income, and once a worker is hospitalized, he or she may be placed on several days of quarantine, or, worse, dismissed from work.

“Let’s not make them line up and wait for long. If we need to set up dedicated lanes, we should do so, because we badly need this kind of program at this point,” she pointed out.

“We welcome this crucial step in protecting the welfare of our Filipino workers as we consider COVID-19 a health hazard to the workforce especially during this time of pandemic,” Hontiveros said.