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ECC sees compensation fund replenished in 2021 after heavy COVID claims

REUTERS

THE Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) said it expects its compensation fund to be replenished this year after it had to make larger-than-expected payouts for work-related cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The ECC had announced last year that funding had run out but still encouraged the filing of claims for work-related injuries or illness pending the arrival of fresh funds.

In a statement dated Jan. 14, the ECC said employees who experienced work-related contingencies can still apply for Employee Compensation, even after the announcement that cash assistance programs had run out of funds in 2020.

ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said in a statement, “Nobody saw COVID-19 coming in 2020. The budget for cash assistance is at an amount regularly allotted for the number of cash assistance applications in the past years. We included COVID-19 sicknesses and deaths in the cash assistance program since COVID-19 is a compensable disease if it is acquired because of work or the working environment.”

The agency realigned budget items to accommodate the 2020 claims for COVID-19 compensation. As of December, the ECC had released more than P40 million in cash assistance to over 4,000 claimants. Applications from last year are being processed until next month.

The ECC said it is hoping “to increase the amount of cash assistance and is coordinating closely… to ensure the viability of the State Insurance Fund that pays for all EC claims and to further facilitate the processing and release of EC benefits for workers affected by COVID-19.”

For new applicants who experienced work-related contingencies such as work-related sickness, injury, or death including those caused by the COVID-19, Ms. Banawis said employees should file claims via the Social Security System or the Government Service Insurance System. The prescription period for the filing of benefits is three years.

The Loss of Income Benefit, Medical Benefit, Death & Funeral Benefits, and Rehabilitation Services are available under the Employees Compensation program. Cash assistance includes P10,000 for sickness and P15,000 for death.

For COVID-19 claims, the ECC requires applications to be supported by two valid IDs preferably a company ID and a government-issued ID; a Certificate of Employment stating the employee’s last day of work prior to contracting COVID-19; an RT-PCR test result, and a medical abstract or medical certificate. — Gillian M. Cortez

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