Solon bats for bigger SRA, hazard pay of health workers in 2022 budget

Senator Joel Villanueva is proposing a bigger allocation for the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and the COVID-19 Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) in 2022 National Budget so that health workers may receive bigger amounts next year. 

In a Senate hearing, Villanueva said that an increase in the appropriations for the SRA and AHDP would allow more health workers to receive the benefits they rightfully deserve. 

He said "current rules and fund limitation" bar certain types of contractual workers from getting additional compensation for dangerous work despite facing the same hazards their colleagues are exposed to.
Senator Villanueva on SRA and hazard pay in 2020 budget.

"The virus does not discriminate. Why does the government distinguish on who to pay or not?" said Villanueva, chair of Senate committee on labor. 

He said a bigger appropriation for AHDP and SRA would lead to higher rates and cover more health workers, who should receive them promptly under liberalized rules. 

"Kung pwede lang po sanang gamitin natin ang Olympic motto na 'faster, higher, stronger' sa paggawad ng benepisyo sa mga doktor, nurses, at iba pang health workers na nagbubuwis buhay sa panahon ng pandemya," he said. "Mas mataas na rate, malaking pondo, at mabilis na pagbibigay ng mga benepisyong pinagtatrabahuhan ng ating mga health workers." 

Initially authorized under the Bayanihan Laws, AHDP is given to public health workers, while the SRA covers health workers in public and private medical institutions.  

Because a public health worker cannot receive more than P3,000 a month in AHDP, the maximum daily availment is P136 a day, Villanueva said. 

"Saan po makaabot ang P136 sa panahon natin ngayon? Kulang na po ito pang-taxi o Grab ng isang pagod na nurse. Hindi rin po sapat pambili ng value meal pagkatapos ng kalahating araw na duty sa COVID ward," he said. 

In the case of the SRA, the monthly payout of the ceiling of P5,000 comes up to about P227 daily compensation for "COVID ward duty, which is one of the world's most dangerous workplaces today," he pointed out. 

Villanueva said such pay rates should now change, the same way that the virus has mutated. As to how much the increase will be, Villanueva said "the Senate, for sure, will collectively propose it once the supporting data are made available during the hearings for the 2022 national budget." 

But he said "a 100-percent increase" in the SRA and the hazard pay can be the starting point of the discussion. (via Senate)

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