City backs bill providing unemployment benefits for workers

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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, strongly supported the immediate passage of House Bill (HB) 7593 or the Unemployment Benefits Act of 2020.

In a resolution, city legislators stated that the provision of the cash aid to displaced workers will definitely serve as a morale booster for them as this aid will be handed to them for a maximum of 2 months or until the worker finds a gainful livelihood, whichever comes first.

Earlier, the Makabayan bloc filed HB 7590 or the Unemployment Benefits Act of 2020 before the House of Representatives.

The bill aims to provide immediate aid to all displaced workers, both in the public and private sectors, with the minimum financial assistance pegged at P10,000 to be sourced out from available government funds.

Further, the proposed bill will include in its scope all workers who had been involuntarily separated from their occupations during the implementation of the community quarantine and it includes workers in the private sector, government offices, and workers in the informal economy such as street vendors, jeepney drivers, agriculture and fisheries workers and the like.

According to the proposed law, it seeks to claim a compensation equaling to the average amount of the workers compensation in the last 36 months, and for those who have worked for less than 36 months, the average pay will be computed based on the months that they had been employed, and that both amounts should not be less than P10,000.

The bill will also mandate the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to augment the compensation should the computation be below P10,000 as earlier enshrined in the pending measure.

For formal workers, the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will be mobilized to provide the cash payment to private workers and workers in the government sector; for informal workers, the DOLE will directly provide the aforesaid payment.

The resolution commended the authors of the noble legislation as this will help in mitigating the impact of the prevailing community quarantine to the employment and sources of livelihood of the people heavily impacted after the virtual stoppage of the vibrant economic activities in the different parts of the world.

The council recognized the fact that even in the city, many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) had been heavily impacted by the prevailing community quarantine after some of them decided to either permanently or temporarily close their businesses, some of them laid off their workers, some opted to continue operating on a reduced scale, among other available options simply to survive the pandemic.

However, the council stipulated that such strategies employed by the owners of businesses were not sufficient as many people lost their jobs, and that they are now having a difficulty looking for sustainable sources of livelihood that will allow them to cope with the pandemic. By Dexter A. See