Self-employed join gov’t compensation program

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THE government-run Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP) will expand its health and welfare compensation benefits to self-employed workers, the labor department said.

Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in a statement on Thursday that the compensation program, will now serve self-employed workers who are members of the Social Security System (SSS). The ECP provides a compensation and benefits package to employees and their dependents in case of work-related sickness, injuries and even death.

“We recognize that most self-employed members of the SSS are also workers who need to be protected in time of work-connected sickness, injuries, or death,” Mr. Bello, who also sits as the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) chair, said.

The program formerly only covered workers from private establishments and also employers in the public sector. ECC Executive Director Stella Z. Banawis said now that self-employed SSS beneficiaries will be covered by the ECP, “(T)he ECP will be able to serve more Filipino workers.”

Self-employed workers qualified for the ECP must be SSS members and have a monthly income of at least P2,000. The worker must also not be over 60 years old during the time of the initial coverage.

DoLE listed the following as self-employed SSS beneficiaries who are automatically entitled to the ECP: “Self-employed professionals who have their own business offices; Partners, single proprietors of businesses, and Directors or Trustees of the Board of corporations duly registered with appropriate government agencies; Actors, directors, scriptwriters, and news correspondents who do not fall within the definition of the term ‘employee’ in Section 8(D) of the SSS Law; Professional athletes, coaches, trainers, jockeys, individual farmers, and fisherfolk; Workers in the informal sector such as market and ambulant vendors, transport workers, and those similarly situated; Contractual and job order personnel engaged by the government through a Contract of Service and who are not covered under the GSIS Law; and, any other self-employed as determined by the Social Security Commission is subject for compulsory coverage, if for initial membership.”

Contributions will depend on monthly income levels. Self-employed workers with a monthly salary of P14,500 pay P10 monthly, while the fee for those earning P15,000 and above contribute P30 monthly. — Gillian M. Cortez