When the coronavirus disease broke out locally in 2020, and quarantine restrictions were implemented, all kinds of industries, companies, and firms were pressed to re-evaluate their work arrangements. Most, if not all, sectors were constrained to adopt telecommuting or work from home arrangements to safeguard the health of their employees while keeping their businesses afloat.
As more companies and firms adjusted to a more flexible working arrangement amid the health crisis, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), through its governing board, approved on 11 March 2021, Board Resolution No. 21-03-09, which created a policy on “the compensability of disability or death due to injuries sustained by the employees in the public and private sector while in the performance of their duties or assigned tasks in their residences or dwelling places.”
As provided in the Board Resolution, employees who suffer from disability or death due to injuries sustained while working from home may now avail of the benefits under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP).
The ECP is a government program designed to provide a compensation package to certain public and private employees and/or their dependents in the event of work-related sickness, injury, or death. It is a purely employer-based contribution benefit, where employees do not need to contribute any amount.
Under the ECP, workers who suffer from work-related sickness, injury, or death are entitled to EC benefits such as loss of income benefits, medical benefits, and death and funeral benefits.
For the injury and the resulting disability or death to be compensable, the injury must be the result of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. The injury or the resulting disability or death sustained by reason of employment are compensable regardless of the place where the incident occurred, if it can be proven that, at the time of the contingency, the employee was acting within the scope of employment and performing an act reasonably necessary or incidental to it.
In approving the policy, the ECC recognized that employees who are in the performance of their duties or specific tasks while at their residences or dwelling places are not exempt from the possible occurrence of work-connected disabilities or deaths due to injury-related incidents.
Thus, the ECC found the need to issue a policy that extends disability or death benefits due to a work-connected injury or death to employees in the private and public sectors and/or their qualified beneficiaries while in the performance of their duties or specific tasks at their residences or dwelling places.
The Board Resolution provides that disability or death due to injuries sustained by the employees while working from home will be compensable under the ECP, subject to the following conditions:
(a) There must be a written directive or order from his or her employer requiring a work-from-home arrangement or the performance of a specific tasks within a specified period at the residence or dwelling place of the employee; and (b) The death occurred or the injury was sustained while the employee was discharging his or her duties or assigned tasks within the said specified period.
Today, even as the cases of persons with coronavirus decrease, and quarantine restrictions are relatively more lenient, some industries choose to maintain a flexible work arrangement or a hybrid work arrangement where the employer and employees can agree on the percentage of those on work-from-home and those physically reporting to the office.
With this Board Resolution, Filipino employees working from home or those in a hybrid work arrangement need not worry in claiming for ECP benefits due to work-related injuries they sustained at home.
First published on The Daily Tribune.