Senator Joel Villanueva has called for the inclusion non-medical workers in the grant of special risk allowances (SRAs) and hazard pay amid the continuing threat of the COVID-19.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor made the proposition as the Senate Committee on Finance deliberated Friday, September 24, on the bill which seeks the continued provision of benefits to public and private health workers during the pandemic.
“We are suggesting that we broaden the scope of the bill to include the non-medical healthcare workers,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said during the hearing.
He said all healthcare workers should all be given hazard pays and allowances for risking exposure to COVID-19 daily.
“Non-medical healthcare workers are also at risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace since they won’t know sino ang may COVID sa mga naka-interact nila (who among those they interacted with have COVID-19),” he added, noting the emergence of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant.
Villanueva also pointed out that the rate of deaths of non-medical healthcare workers (HCWs) was not far behind that of medical workers.
Citing Department of Health (DOH) data as of September 19, he said the case fatality rate of nurses is at one percent while doctors is at 0.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the fatality case rate for non-medical hospital employees is at 4.3 percent, 1.1 percent for admin staff and 0.7 percent for barangay health workers.
Villanueva likewise mentioned that the latest COVID-19 case tally of non-medical HCWs reached 2,157 of the 24,895 cases of all HCWs, or about 8.7 percent of the total COVID-19 cases of HCWs.
While the DOH counts 526,727 HCWs in its initial computation of the needed COVID-19 benefits, the total number of HCWs could be higher, he maintained.
Under the Senate Bill No. 2371 or the propposed Benefits for Healthcare Workers Act filed by Senator Richard Gordon and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, the national government shall provide the benefits not only to medical workers, but also “non-medical workers and outsourced personnel hired under institutional or individual contract of service who are similarly exposed to COVID-19”.
Aside from the monthly SRA and active hazard duty pay, the benefits also include life insurance, accommodation, transportation and meals regardless of community quarantine status; and compensation to those who have contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty.