On April 15, 2021, the Philippines logged 11,429 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to a staggering 904,285 cases. The coronavirus and its variants are so contagious now that entire households are getting infected.

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Experts say that it’s easier for groups to contract the virus due to being exposed in the workplace or attending family gatherings. If this is the case, would it be possible for employees to get compensation for COVID-19 if they get it from work?

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Can I get compensation for COVID-19?

Private and government employees who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 can get financial assistance through PhilHealth if they are members. But another, not-so-known route is through the Employees’ Compensation Program (EC program) under the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC).

The Employees’ Compensation Commission is an agency under the Department of Labor and Employment. Its primary task is to provide assistance in the event of work-related sickness, injury, disability, or death.

On their official website, the ECC said in February 2020 that “in the event that an employee acquires the virus, it can be compensable under the EC Program [through] the ‘Increased Risk Theory’ provided that it was obtained by the employee in the performance of his / her employment.”

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“Example of this are medical personnel involved in the treatment of those infected and the crew members of a luxury liner who were tested positive for the coronavirus. They can file an EC claim since they acquired the virus in the course of their employment,” said ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis.

What is the Employees’ Compensation Program?

The Employees Compensation Program (EC program) provides a package of benefits for public and private sector employees. These include:

  • Loss of income benefits
  • Medical benefits
  • Carer’s allowance
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Death and funeral benefits

Who are covered under the Employees Compensation Program?

All registered members of the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) are covered by the EC program. Self-employed members may also avail of the benefits if they are SSS members and if they pay their EC contributions.

Unlike SSS benefits, only the employer contributes to the EC program. According to the agency’s FAQs, employees are covered starting on the first day of their employment.

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How to file an Employees’ Compensation Claim

On her website tinainmanila.com, general manager of Platino 950, Inc and Certified HR Practitioner (CHRP) Tina Khoe Ang enumerates the steps to file an Employees’ Compensation Claim (EC claim).

First, the employee should notify his or her employer of the sickness or injury within five days from its occurrence. If it happened during working hours, at the workplace, and with the knowledge of an employer or representative, notice is no longer needed.

The employer is then given five days upon receipt of the incident report to record it in the company logbook. “The details should include chronologically the sickness, injury, or death of the employee, along with the name, date, place of contingency, and absences.”

If employer refuses to provide a copy of the EC logbook, the worker or his beneficiaries will still be entitled to the claim. The employer will likewise be penalized if he fails to keep a logbook, gives false information, or withholds material information.

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1. Employees are required to prepare the following documents to file an EC claim:

  • Certificate of employment
  • EC logbook (certified true copy of the page explaining the extent of the employee’s sickness or accident)
  • Medical findings

2. Additional documents may be needed depending on the event

  • Sickness – request a copy of your pre-employment medical checkup or fit to work certification when you were first hired.
  • Accident – provide an accident report if it happened in the workplace or a police report if it occurred outside the workplace
  • Death – beneficiary shall provide a death certificate, medical records, or accident report of the employee. Married employees should provide a marriage contract and birth certificates (for those with kids 21 and below)

3. Fill out the necessary forms depending on the nature of the EC claim.

4. Submit forms and documents to the nearest SSS office.

5. If approved, you will receive a notice and the payment may be deposited to the bank account registered to your My.SSS account.

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If disapproved, you can request for a written denial letter from SSS and file a motion for reconsideration. If this is not approved, you can write a Letter of Appeal and send it to the ECC and await their decision.

Remember: EC claims must be filed within a period of three years from:

the time the employee was unable to report for work due to sickness
the time of incident if due to injury
the date of death

If you are filing an EC claim due to COVID-19, you will need to prepare these requirements:

  • Copy of two valid IDs (preferably company ID and SSS or other government-issued ID)
  • Certification of Employment declaring the employee’s last day of work prior to contracting COVID-19
  • Positive laboratory (PRT-PCR) test result
  • Medical abstract or medical certificate

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Find out the PhilHealth benefits and treatment packages you can avail should you get COVID-19 here.

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