By Butch Fernandez, November 5 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Business World

Two Senate bills granting night-shift differential pay and hazard pay for government workers are up for plenary consideration and approval as soon as Congress reconvenes regular sessions next week.

Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV confirmed that Senate Bill 1562 and SB 559 are now in line for early approval on second reading as endorsed by the Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation.

“Hard-working government employees toiling in the wee hours or in hazardous areas could receive new night-shift differential pay and hazard pay under two bills now being tackled by the Senate,” Trillanes, committee chairman, reported over the weekend.

The senator said the two bills were crafted in recognition of the fact that state workers have “long suffered neglect and poor working conditions.”

“This Act is just a simple effort to repay them for their service and to recognize their role as the backbone of our government,” Trillanes added.

In a statement, the senator pointed out that SB 1562 was crafted to provide a night differential pay for government employees at a rate not exceeding 20 percent of the hourly basic rate of the employee for each hour of work performed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

He explained that the night-shift pay was endorsed by the Senate committee for plenary approval “in recognition of the sacrifices of government employees who work late at night and in the wee hours of the morning.”

Trillanes affirmed “it is only fair that they should be given substantially the same benefits as those given to employees in the private sector.”

The senator added that, SB 559 proposes a hazard pay which shall be received by all government employees who are stationed or assigned to work in hazardous areas, as may be declared by the Secretary of National Defense; difficult areas or hardship posts characterized by distance, inconvenience of travel due to bad roads and conditions of the terrain, isolation, inaccessibility and extreme weather conditions; x-ray units, clinics, laboratories, sanitaria, leprosaria, observation posts and other similar stations which offer risks to health and safety due to exposure to radiation, contagious diseases and volcanic activity.

Hazard pay shall also be provided for workers in: institutions that tend or care for mentally deranged patients; places that are subject to depredation by criminal elements as those in prison reservations and penal colonies without adequate police protection; plants and installations of the arsenal; aboard aircraft and watercraft in crossing bodies of water; and, other similar work conditions which the Department of Budget and Management shall consider hazardous on the basis of exposure to environment, health and social risks.

According to Trillanes, the Senate committee believes “that it is only fair and reasonable that the officials and employees of the government be provided with appropriate compensation for the risks they assume in connection with the performance of their duties.” Trillanes said.

“After all, it is the government’s responsibility to protect and look after our government officials and employees whose lives are constantly at risk in order to serve our people.”

At the same time, the senator clarified that both bills state that the night differential pay and the hazard pay could be received by government employees “regardless of the nature of their employment, whether permanent, contractual, temporary or casual.”

He added that under SB 1562, night differential pay would also apply to workers of government-owned or -controlled corporations. He, however, clarified it “would not cover public health workers already given such benefits under Republic Act 7305, or the country’s uniformed personnel, which has a different salary rate.”