Self-employed workers now eligible for EC benefits

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    THE Employees’ Compensation (EC) Program has been expanded, now to cover also self-employed workers, instead of just employees in the private and public sector.

    Stella Zipagan-Banawis, executive director of the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), said self-employed members of the Social Security System (SSS) may now register for the program.

    There are about 3 million self-employed SSS members.

    A self-employed worker is defined as one engaged in any trade, business, or occupation; who has no employer other than himself/herself; derives income from his/her physical and mental efforts; and, who is not over 60 years of age (if initial coverage).

    Considered as self employed individuals are professionals who have their own business offices; partners, single proprietors of businesses, and directors or trustees of the board of corporations registered with government; actors, directors, scriptwriters, and news correspondents who do not fall within the definition of the term ”employee”; and professional athletes, coaches, trainers, jockeys, individual farmers, and fisherfolk.

    Also considered as self employed are workers in the informal sector such as market and ambulant vendors, transport workers, and those similarly situated; contractual and job order personnel engaged by government through a contract of service and who are not coverable under the GSIS Law; and any other self employed worker as determined by the Social Security Commission.

    The EC Program is designed to provide both public and private sector workers and/or their dependents benefits such as medical and “loss of income” benefits and rehabilitation services in the event of work-connected contingencies, such as sickness, injury, disability, or death.

    Under a joint circular issued by ECC and SSS, starting September 2020, the payment reference numbers (PRNs) to be issued by SSS for self-employed members will include EC contributions.

    As for self-employed members who have paid contributions in advance, a separate PRN will be emailed to notify them to pay their EC contributions corresponding to the period September 2020 until the last applicable month of advance payment.

    At present, EC contributions are pegged at P10 a month for workers with monthly salary credit (MSC) of below P15,000 and P30 per month for those with MSC of P15,000 and above.