With COVID-19 causing a shift in work pattern in the Philippines and a lot of Filipino workers are working from home, ECC will now apply the Supreme Court pronouncement granting EC benefits to workers who sustained injuries while working from home.
In the Supreme Court decision entitled “Perlita Lopez v. ECC, Government Service Insurance System and DECS” (G.R. No.90267, Dec. 21, 1993), the high tribunal granted Perlita Lopez’s petition to grant the EC death benefits claims for the death of her husband, Pedro Lopez, a former public high school teacher who died while working from home.
Pedro Lopez was employed as a public school teacher at the Urdaneta National High School, Urdaneta, Pangasinan from July 01, 1973 until his untimely demise on May 27, 1987.
On April 27, 1987, a memorandum was issued to Lopez to prepare a model dam as an official entry of the Urdaneta National High School to the forthcoming Division Search for Outstanding Improvised Secondary Science Equipment for Teachers in Pangasinan.
Lopez complied with the instruction and constructed an improvised electric micro-dam, which he took home to enable him to finish it before the deadline.
On May 27, 1987, at around 6:30 A.M., while working on the project, he accidentally touched a live wire and was electrocuted. He was immediately brought to a clinic but was pronounced dead on arrival. The death certificate showed that he died of cardiac arrest due to accidental electrocution.
The case was initially denied by the GSIS, and then, by the ECC on the ground that death did not arise out and in the course of employment.
The Supreme Court explained that while the death of Lopez took place in his house and not in his official work station, which is the school, he was still discharging his function as the one in-charge of the project thus the order to pay the death claims for Lopez was granted.
Under ECC Circular No. 03-709 dated July 22, 2009, the injury and the resulting disability or death sustained by reason of employment are compensable regardless of the place where the incident occurred, if it can be proven that at the time of the contingency, the employee was acting within the purview of the employment and performing an act reasonably necessary or incidental thereto.
ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis expressed her support for the decision. She said, “This SC ruling will serve as our guiding principle for the evaluation and assessment of all EC claims due to work-from-home injuries.”
Banawis added, “We are working hand in hand with other social security agencies to expand and extend the benefits and services of ECC to our working-from-home workers or employees in case of work-related injuries during this time of COVID-19 where most industries adopt work-from-home arrangement.”