Bill seeking deferment of SSS contribution hike pushed

Marje Pelayo   •   January 5, 2021   •   568

MANILA, Philippines — A proposed bill was filed in the Senate seeking the deferment of contribution increase among members of the Social Security System (SSS).

This shall be through an amendment in the provision of the Social Security System Act of 2018, particularly Section 4.

According to Senator Joel Villanueva, the SSS still has enough funds to sustain its services even with a one-year suspension of contribution increase based on the agency’s collections in 2019.

With this, the lawmaker called on his colleagues in the Senate to expedite the passage of the measure on the matter.

“Gusto natin na mag-status quo lang po tayo, for this year alone, 2021. Wala naman pong naka-anticipate na magkakaroon ng ganitong pandemya, at mahihirapan nang husto ang ating mga manggagawang kababayan, ang ating mga employers,” he said.

“Bigyan po natin sila ng konting panahon pa para maka-recover, until such a time na, yun ho. Puwede na nating i-increase ulit ang contribution ng SSS,” he added.

For his part, Senator Richard Gordon acknowledged the need for a new measure that will help the public recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“Pag-uusapan namin ito sa komite at kung kinakailangan ay maglalabas kami ng bagong batas para maging magaan para sa ating mga kabababayan ang makaahon sa pandemyang ito habang patuloy na nagbabayad ng kanilang kontribusyon sa SSS,” said Gordon, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Corporation and Public Enterprises.

The Senate has asked the SSS to submit proposals on ways to defer the contribution hike in consideration to the ongoing pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday (January 5), the SSS stressed that the scheduled increase in its contribution rate and minimum and maximum monthly salary credits (MSCs) is to ensure the continuous delivery of social security protection to its members and their beneficiaries.

SSS President and CEO Aurora C. Ignacio said that the SSS has been listening to the clamor of various labor groups and members to defer the said mandated increases; however, the move is designed to protect the fund life of the SSS.

“We understand the plight of our covered employers and members, but, at the same time, it is our duty to secure the long-term viability of the SSS fund entrusted to us for the continuous delivery of SSS benefits to our current and future members, as well as their beneficiaries,” Ignacio said.

This January 2021, the SSS contribution rate was increased to 13 percent from the previous 12 percent. 

The SSS emphasized that the said reforms will allow members to save more for their retirement.

Ignacio said that any delay in implementing the said reforms could endanger the fund life of the SSS and its ability to provide its members and their beneficiaries with benefits and loan privileges, especially in this time of the pandemic. -MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

Apelang ipagpaliban ang SSS rate hike, pinag-aaralan na – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Pinag-aaralan na ng tanggapan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang apela ng ilang business at labor group na ipagpaliban ang pagtaas ng monthly contribution sa Social Security System (SSS).

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, nakarating na sa Office the President ang kanilang hiling na maglabas ng executive order upang suspindihin muna ang buwanang umento sa SSS contribution upang makabawi muna ang mga negosyong naapektuhan ng pandemya.

“Mayroon na pong sinubmit na recommendation ang SSS pero titingnan po natin ang financial viability ng SSS at the same time, yung kahinaan ng negosyo at hanapbuhay sa gitna ng pandemiya. asahan po natin ang desisyon sa lalong mabilis na panahon,” ani Roque.

Sampung business at labor groups ang lumagda sa apela na isinumite sa tanggapan ni Pangulong Duterte.

Iginiit ng mga ito ang pagpapaliban sa SSS contribution hike sa ilalim ng Republic Act 11548 na nilagdaan noong buwan ng Mayo.

Sa ilalim ng batas, may otoridad ang pangulo na ipagpaliban ang nakatakdang pagtaas ng SSS premium contributions habang nasa ilalim ng state of calamity ang bansa dahil sa COVID-19 pandemic.

Noon pang Enero 2021 naging epektibo ang scheduled increase ng SSS monthly contribution mula 12 percent sa 13 percent.

DOLE reiterates rights, protection of delivery riders under Labor law

Marje Pelayo   •   July 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reiterates the rights of riders in food delivery and courier activities under the Labor Code of the Philippines or their contract with the digital platform company, depending on the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

In an advisory, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said all delivery riders who are considered employees of a digital platform company are entitled to the minimum benefits under the Labor Code.

Meanwhile, those who work as independent contractors or freelancers shall be governed by their respective contracts or agreements with the digital platform company.

DOLE issued the advisory in order to set the standards in determining work relationships between food delivery companies and their respective riders.

This employer-employee relationship between the delivery rider and the digital platform company, Bello said, may be determined in consideration of the flexibility of work which includes working time, control through technology, and use of the equipment and other inputs.

The advisory stated that all delivery riders who are deemed employees of the digital platform company shall enjoy the minimum standards and benefits which include: minimum wage, holiday pay, premium pay, overtime pay, night shift differential, service incentive leave, thirteenth-month pay, separation pay, and retirement pay.

They are also entitled to get occupational safety and health (OSH) standards, including SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG, and other benefits under existing laws.

Riders shall also enjoy the right to security of tenure, self-organization, and collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, riders who are considered independent contractors or freelancers shall be governed by their respective contracts or agreements with the digital platform company.

The contract or agreement shall stipulate the following provisions, including but not limited to:

  • the payment of fair and equitable compensation, which shall not be lower than the prevailing minimum wage rates and facilitation of registration;
  • coverage under SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG;
  • compliance with applicable OSH standards;
  • attendance to regular training and seminars on road and traffic rules and road safety. This shall be arranged by the digital platform company in coordination with relevant government agencies;
  • arrangement with concerned local government units and/or merchants in setting up designated waiting areas for delivery riders

The Labor Advisory further states that any complaint or grievance of delivery riders or digital platform company shall be settled and resolved through conciliation, mediation, inspection, or arbitration, whichever is applicable, under existing rules and regulations.

SSS to accept online filing of maternity benefit claims starting May 31

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Social Security System (SSS) on Friday said it will soon accept online Maternity Benefit Applications (MBA) and Maternity Benefit Reimbursement Applications (MBRA).

In a statement, SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the online filing of MBA and MBRA through the My.SSS portal on the SSS website would start on May 31.

Ignacio said this is in line with SSS’ scheduled mandatory implementation, which will take effect on September 1.

“As part of our digitalization initiatives, the SSS has now allowed maternity benefit applications to be filed online, along with sickness benefit reimbursement, unemployment, retirement, and funeral. We recognize the current situation of our female members who are high-risk individuals to COVID-19 infection. Their health and safety remain our top priority,” Ignacio said.

The dropbox or over-the-counter filing will still be allowed at the SSS Branch Office/Foreign Representative Office (FRO)/Medical Evaluation Center (MEC) until August 31.

Maternity benefit covers all female self-employed, voluntary, overseas Filipino workers (OFW), non-working spouse members, and female members who are separated from employment and have not yet received any advance payment of maternity benefit from their previous employers. Meanwhile, maternity benefit reimbursement covers all employers, including household employers.

Online filing through the member or employer’s My.SSS account applies to all initial or new claims as well as cases for adjustments, including the following instances:

  • Member is qualified as a solo parent;
  • With correction on the type of delivery from normal to caesarian delivery or from miscarriage to ectopic pregnancy with operation;
  • SSS computation is higher than the employer’s computation;
  • Additional posted contributions will increase the benefit amount;
  • Correction of the approved number of compensable days from 60 (normal delivery) or 78 (caesarian section delivery) to 105 days; and
  • Allocation of leave credits not used due to separation from employment of child’s father or qualified alternate caregiver.

“Required supporting documents corresponding to the type of claim need to be scanned and uploaded by the filer for review by SSS,” the agency said.

For MBRAs, the receipt of the advance payment by an employer must be confirmed/ certified by the female employed member within seven working days from the date of the e-mail notification sent by SSS.

“The member may access the confirmation/ certification facility through the link in the SSS e-mail or the account in My.SSS,” the agency said.

If the member fails to confirm/certify within the prescribed period, the claim will be rejected and the employer will have to re-submit or re-file another MBRA as a new transaction.

For cases wherein the member is separated from employment, absence without leave (AWOL), or deceased before filing the claim, confirmation/certification is no longer required.

The maternity benefit offered by SSS is a cash allowance granted to qualified female members.

To qualify, there must be at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period immediately preceding the semester of the childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy (ETP).

For employed members, they should notify their employers upon learning about their pregnancy. For self-employed, voluntary, and OFW members, they may submit the maternity notification via the My.SSS portal on the SSS website or through the SSS Mobile App.

Members are reminded that only contributions paid prior to the semester of childbirth, miscarriage, or ETP will be considered in determining eligibility for maternity benefits.

The 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law implemented on March 11, 2019 increases the number of compensable days of maternity leave, from the initial 60 days for normal delivery, or 78 days for caesarian section delivery, to 105 days for live childbirth—regardless of the type of delivery. There is also an additional 15 days paid leave if the female worker qualifies as a solo parent.

In case of miscarriage, the entitlement is 60 days of paid maternity leave. The law also granted further consideration to our women by extending maternity leave to every instance of pregnancy, and miscarriage, regardless of frequency, from the previous limit of the first four deliveries or miscarriages.

“We encourage our members and employers to register at My.SSS and enroll their bank accounts in the Disbursement Account Enrollment Module (DAEM) to receive their benefits at the soonest possible time,” Ignacio said.

“The online service offerings are part of our brand campaign through ExpreSSS for faster, easier, and simpler means of transacting with SSS,” she added.

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