MANILA – A labor group on Monday urged the government to include the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the hospitalization and insurance benefits of workers.

In a statement, the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) said the Employment Compensation Commission (ECC) should include such indemnity in its work-related compensation programs and services for these workers who might be exposed to the new, potent and dreaded workplace hazard, Covid-19, inside work establishments and while performing their jobs.

“The Covid-19 employment insurance coverage is important because of the great danger and hazards it poses to returning employees once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted,” it said.

It added the insurance coverage must be in force as soon as the community quarantine is lifted and employees are allowed to return to their places of work.

Meanwhile, Gerard Seno, ALU national vice president, said it is important for ECC to classify Covid-19 as a ‘dreaded disease’ to ensure the protection of government and private sector employees who will return to work once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.

“We urge the ECC board to immediately issue a resolution providing insurance coverage for employees in private and government sectors as a safety net for workers who might be infected or exposed to the Covid-19 hazard risk on the way or from work and or have been exposed inside the work establishments,” he added.

The call was made as ALU and other stakeholder labor groups are helping the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) draft Covid-19 occupational safety and health (OSH) guidelines.

It would serve as the standard protocol for employers and employees in preventing, controlling and managing Covid-19 in workplaces once employees are allowed to go back to work.

Seno said the OSH guidelines must be in place on or before the resumption of work so that workers who will return to work will not be unnecessarily exposed to coronavirus while in transit and while inside the workplace.

“These guidelines protocols are important for workers working in hospitals, clinics, media stores, restaurants, hotels, public transportation, malls, offices, banks, factories, among others. If these OSH standards are not being followed, thousands of workers, including their family members and co-workers, will be exposed to Covid-19,” he added.

The ECC is a quasi-judicial corporate entity attached to the DOLE created to implement the Employees’ Compensation Program by providing a package of benefits for public and private sector employees and their dependents in the event of work-connected contingencies such as sickness, injury, disability or death.

It is tasked by law to develop and implement effective occupational safety and health policies and programs for the promotion of a healthy working population and provide workers and their dependents with benefits and rehabilitation services in the event of a work-connected accident, injury, illness, and death using a part of the fund from monthly remittance collected by the Social Security System. (PNA)

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