Makabayan solons seek pay hike for nurses in private hospitals

Lawmakers are pushing for a measure that will give private sector nurses higher wages.

The six-man Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives filed House Bill 7851, also known as the Salary Increase for Private Sector Nurses Act of 2020, which seeks to institutionalize a minimum base pay of P32,000 for nurses in private hospitals which is equivalent to salary grade 15 as enshrined in the Salary Standardization Law of 2019.

“They are the most numerous professionals in most hospitals. On duty for eight-12 hours, they care for the sick 24/7, at the risk of their very own lives. They are considered ‘heroes’ in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Their commitment to service and the nursing profession have cost them their very own lives. Yet, our Filipino nurses are among the least paid compared to their counterparts in other countries,” the bill’s explanatory note stated.

Citing data from the Bureau of Local Employment, the progressive bloc said an entry-level registered nurse receives a monthly salary of around P8,000 to P13,500, while a hospital-hired nurse earns only P9,757.

“Some private sector nurses are even paid only P5,000 to P10,000 per month, with salaries pegged at the minimum daily wage in the region. These are far below the P537/day minimum wage or P11,000/month for workers in the National Capital Region,” the bloc said.

The lawmakers said such amounts are significantly less than the family living wage of P1,022 per day or P31,089 per month needed by a family of five in the National Capital Region to live decently.

“The government has been oblivious to the situation of nurses. Calls and demands of nurses for higher salaries and salary upgrading fell on deaf ears and was even openly opposed by the Department of Budget and Management despite clear provisions in Republic Act 9173 or Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.”

The minimum salary of private sector nurses shall also be increased and adjusted accordingly with those of their Nurse 1 counterparts in the public sector, the bill provides.

The bill entitles any victims of provisional violations to back wages and full payment of unpaid benefits.

“In addition, he/she shall be entitled to refund of interest and attorney’s fees to be paid by the agency if he/she is forced to litigate,” the bill further stated.

The measure penalizes violators with a fine of not less than P500,000 and/or an imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than two two years.

“For violations committed by agencies, juridical persons, or any other entity, the head of the agency and Board of Directors or executive officials of the agency shall assume full responsibility.” — Kyle Artistophere T. Atienza

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