Legarda Bats for the Institutionalization of Special Risk Allowance, additional compensation for Health Workers

August 19, 2021

“Our people’s health should come first, but at the same time, we also need to protect the welfare of our healthcare workers. This is the first step towards ensuring that our health care system is able to keep up with the challenges of this global pandemic,” three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda said amid reports of mass resignation of healthcare workers.

The health crisis caused by the COVID-19 has placed our healthcare system under immense pressure and challenged its capacity to sustain the increasing demand for care of both COVID and non-COVID patients. Legarda lamented that while the overwhelming global health crisis is taking a toll on the healthcare workers’ overall well-being, the salaries and benefits being afforded them now are not sufficient to compensate for the hard work and sacrifices they do.

“Our healthcare workers are very essential in our fight not only against the COVID-19 pandemic, but against all other health risk our people face. Yet, their efforts have been undervalued. We cannot blame them if they choose to quit their profession because we sympathize with the high level of stress and exhaustion they have to bear over long hours of work setting without getting adequate compensation and benefits,” Legarda said.

The three-term Senator therefore called for the institutionalization of the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and additional compensation for healthcare workers in both public and private hospitals and institutions as the country continues to battle against the current pandemic and also in anticipation of future health challenges. Said allowance is currently provided for under Administrative Order Nos. 28 and 36, series of 2020, pursuant to the Bayanihan Laws.

“Our health workers, not just those who are “catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients”, have been appealing for more than a year now. As we have seen since the pandemic started last year, the virus cannot be contained and infections are not confined within designated COVID wards alone. We must act fast and heed their distress call for better working conditions and compensation or else this will lead to depleted workforce at a time when more contagious variants of the virus are emerging,” Legarda said.

Legarda, co-author of RA 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act that provides for COVID-19 related compensation for healthcare workers, slammed the reports on the delay in granting hazard pay and special risk allowances. The former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance also expressed her frustrations on reported deficiencies on the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget according to the Commission on Audit’s (COA) annual audit reports and called for a more stringent process of allocating next year’s budget to ensure that the essential needs are appropriately addressed, which include just compensation and special risk allowance for healthcare workers.

“The reported looming mass resignation of healthcare workers should compel us to review current national policies, programs, and plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and place the benefits for our healthcare workers among the top priorities of the government. We should streamline and expedite the process of providing them what is due them because a country will never be safe from this health crisis unless our healthcare workers themselves feel safe and secure,” Legarda said.

“Amid our continuing fight against this pandemic, we have to achieve the optimal balance between treating the sick, sustaining the provision of essential health services, and ensuring genuine assistance to our healthcare workers and frontliners. Protecting the rights of our healthcare workers is the key to ensuring a competitive, efficient and effective healthcare system that will keep the Filipino people safe and protected,” Legarda concluded.***