House passes media workers’ welfare bill

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has passed a bill seeking to provide better benefits for media workers.

In session on Monday afternoon, the plenary unanimously approved House Bill 8140 or the proposed Media Workers Welfare Act via a 218-0 vote with no abstention.

The measure, authored by ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Niña Taduran, provides that all media workers shall not receive less than the applicable minimum wage prescribed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

The bill also mandates media workers to be considered as regular employees after six months from the start of employment, regardless of the nature of employment. Media companies cannot remove a worker without a just or authorized cause and due process.

Media workers are entitled under the bill to receive overtime pay, night shift premiums, retirement benefits prescribed in Republic Act 11199, or the Social Security Act of 2018, and coverage in the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

According to the proposed measure, workers in the media sector should be given a hazard pay of a minimum of ?500 per day. Employers are also mandated to provide basic safety gear and equipment to media workers covering in dangerous areas and places under state of calamity or emergency.

Employers in the media sector are also instructed under the bill to provide ?200,000 death benefit for media workers who die while on duty, up to ?200,000 disability benefit for those who sustain an injury in the line of duty, and medical insurance of up to ?100,000.

Media entities are liable under the bill “for claims arising from gross negligence, malicious acts, and violation of laws in connection with the work of blocktimers and media workers regardless of the nature of engagement” unless these companies can disprove such allegations.

The bill also mandates the Department of Labor and Employment to create the News Media Tripartite Council, which will hear the concerns of media workers and companies, settle their conflicts and agree on mutually beneficial policies for the media industry.

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