DOH: Nurses deployed to Sorsogon given wages but not qualified for hazard pay


    THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday assured Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero that nine nurses assigned to his province have been paid of their salaries but are not qualified to receive hazard pay under the Bayanihan 1 law.

    In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said under the Bayanihan I law, nurses and other frontline workers are entitled to hazard pay only from March 16 to May 15.

    She said the nurses started working in Sorsogon only last June 15, and “that is the reason why they weren’t provided hazard pay.

    “Under Bayanihan 1, there is a specific clause that only those in areas under ECQ or modified ECQ (shall be given hazard pay),” Vergeire added.

    Escudero had slammed the DOH for its supposed failure to compensate the nurses deployed to augment Sorsogon’s medical frontline workers amid the coronavirus disease pandemic. Escudero also claimed the nurses were not provided any benefits, such as hazard pay.

    “The nine nurses were assigned to Dr. Fernando B. Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital. They already resigned. They were paid on September 14,” said Vergeire.

    She said the delay was brought about by the failure of the nurses to submit the necessary employment documents.

    “We want to remind our healthcare workers that if there are documentary requirements, have them submitted immediately in order to avoid delays in the processing of their salaries,” said Vergeire.

    Despite the recent push for salary increase for government nurses next year, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said it still pales to those being offered by other countries.

    “In some countries, the lowest salary is at P100,000 per month. And that is just a starting salary. When they are fully acknowledged nurses, it will still go up,” said POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia.

    Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal had earlier pushed for the inclusion of a special provision in the 2021 budget that will adjust the salary grade of government nurses in the country.

    If approved, an entry-level nurse’s (Nurse 1) monthly pay in the country will rise from P23,877 to P33,575.

    The Department of Labor and Employment, meanwhile, expressed opposition to the proposal to reduce the weekly work schedule for employees in the private sector from 40 to 35 hours.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said reduced work hours will result to less income for employees.

    “We are not in favor of it. The minimum working hours should still be 40 hours,” Bello said, adding: “When the working hours are reduced, the workers’ pay will also be lessened.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill seeking to allow employees in the private sector to work for 35 hours a week as an alternative work arrangement.