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Health workers demand hazard pay release

First Posted 12:34:00 06/23/2009

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ROXAS CITY?At least 100 health workers here sued the city government for non-payment of their hazard pay 16 years since this was mandated by Republic Act No. 7305, or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers of 1992.

The Association of Roxas City Health Employees (ARCHE), led by its president Dr. Ma. Esperanza Gepilano, filed a case for damages at the Roxas Regional Trial Court against the city government.

In its petition, the group asked the Roxas City government to pay their benefits according to their salary grades.

In its seven-page petition, the health workers alleged that the city government never allotted a budget for the payment of the mandated benefits.

The law mandates the payment of hazard pay to public health workers in hospitals, rural health units, barangay clinics, mental institutions and health stations in areas of conflict or where workers are exposed to contagious diseases and other risks.

The health secretary, or the head of the health unit with the approval of the secretary, determines whether health workers are entitled to hazard pay. The pay is equivalent to at least 25 percent of the workers' basic salary if they are in salary grade 19 or five percent for those who are in salary grade 20 and above.

The petition said an executive order issued by then President Fidel Ramos provided for full payment of the hazard allowances.

It said health workers in the city had been exposed to pollutants, radiation, noxious odor, toxic chemicals from different sources and are entitled to the hazard pay.

The petitioners said the city government ignored a Department of Health memorandum dated June 6, 2006 reminding local governments of the health workers' hazard pay.

Roxas City Vice Mayor Ronnie Dadivas said the failure of the city government to give the hazard pay of city health workers was not a good example of leadership.

Dadivas said giving hazard pay to health workers would have helped improve services in the city.

Judge Delano Villarruz, of Regional Trial Court Branch 16, directed the respondents?Roxas City Mayor Vicente Bermejo and the Roxas City council?to answer the petition in 10 days. /Inquirer

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