Employment structures have indeed evolved over the years, and without a doubt, would continue. As opportunities open up, the incidence of job change increases, whether external or migration from local to overseas employment and vice versa. With the mobility of workers, arises the need for government to ensure the preservation and promotion of workers’ overall welfare in the pursuit of social justice. It is imperative that governments around the world take up the challenge and espouse policies or programs attuned to these conditions; this article shows the Philippine Government’s effort to adapt to a borderless, globalized environment, tailor-fitting legislation and practices to suit particular needs of Filipino workers abroad.
Since the early 1980s, the SSS in a joint effort with the Department of Foreign Affairs, has endeavored to conclude social security agreements with countries that host a substantial number of Filipino migrant workers, for the purpose of promoting mutual cooperation in the field of social security. Among the countries that signed the Convention on Social Security with the Philippines are: Austria (1982), United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (1989), Spain (1989), France (1989), Canada (1997) and Quebec (1998), Switzerland (2001), and Belgium (2001).
Main provisions of these treaties are deemed to be compliant with the standards set by Convention No. 157, adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1982, aimed at establishing a universal system for the Maintenance of Social Security Rights with respect to persons working or residing outside their own countries. In fact, the Philippines eventually subscribed and ratified said ILO Convention in 1994, alongside Sweden and Spain.
A pre-requisite to bilateral agreements is the compatibility of the two parties’ social security schemes. Most agreements apply to all branches of social security and categories of persons or workers covered by the relevant laws of both countries.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THESE AGREEMENTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Equality of treatment
A covered Filipino, including his/her dependents and survivors, shall be eligible to social security benefits under the same conditions as nationals in the host country, for example, Spain. In the spirit of reciprocity, Spanish nationals shall be entitled to benefits under the same conditions as Filipinos in the Philippines.
Export of benefits
A person shall continue to receive social security benefits wherever he/she decides to reside (in the Philippines, in the host country, or even in a third country). Such benefits shall also be subject to the adjustments approved for benefits payable in the Philippines.
Totalization of periods of coverage
Contributions paid or membership periods completed successively or alternately under the respective social security schemes of the Philippines and the host country shall be accumulated to determine both the qualification for benefits and the proportionate allocation in the payment of said benefits. This shall exclude overlapping periods in creditable service to avoid undue plurality of coverage.
Mutual administrative assistance
Covered members and their families may file their claims with the designated liaison agencies of the Philippines and the host country, which shall accordingly extend assistance to facilitate processing and disbursement of benefits, and handle matters pertaining to the efficient implementation of the agreement.
These provisions are deemed to be compliant with the standards set by Convention No. 157 adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1982, aimed at establishing a universal system for the Maintenance of Social Security Rights with respect to persons working or residing outside their own country. Underlying Convention No. 157 are two basic concepts or principles. The concept of Maintenance of Acquired Rights and the concept of Maintenance of Rights in the Course of Acquisition
The first concept refers to the guarantee by a Member-State to pay the social security benefits provided by its national legislation, irrespective of the nationality and place of residence of the
The second concept refers to the recognition of the periods of social security coverage completed successively or alternately under the legislation of two or more Member-States for the purpose of acquiring, maintaining and calculating the benefits under those legislations. In adherence to these concepts or principles, the Philippines eventually subscribed and ratified the said ILO Convention in April 26, 1994, alongside Sweden and Spain.
The Agreement in Social Security System between Spain and Philippines was signed last May 20, 1988, published in the BOE (Official State Bulletin) in October 11, 1989 and took effect in November of 1989.
To whom this Agreement is applicable?
To all Spanish and Filipino workers who are under the Social Security Regulations in one or both countries as well as their beneficiaries.
What are the benefits available in this agreement?
In relation with Spain:
The Social Security System provides the following benefits:
Temporal Disability for common illness and accidents outside the workplace, maternity leave benefits.
Permanent Disability, Retirement, death and Survival
Work Accidents and occupational Diseases Subsidies
In connection with the Philippines:
Economic benefits covered by Social Security System in the following:
Temporary disability, maternity, sickness and accidents outside the workplace.
Partial or total disability
Death and Survival
Work accident and occupational disease
Terms and conditions
Limited applicability. Totalization of benefits shall cover only old age, disability and death benefits, and only to members who do not qualify for pension benefit under the laws of at least one of the Systems.
Maintenance of membership records. Membership contributions that a worker has paid to the SSS while working in the private sector and to the GSIS, in case he/she transfers employment to the government sector, or vice versa, shall remain in the records of both Systems.
No overlapping. Overlapping periods of membership shall be credited only once
Totalization and pro-rata sharing of benefits. For purposes of computing the retirement and other benefits due a member, the number of years of service in the public and private sectors shall be totalized, as if there was no interruption of his/her membership to either system, SSS or GSIS. The amount of benefit to be paid by each system shall be on a pro-rata basis, which means that it shall be in proportion to the contributions that the worker has paid to either System
The average productive years of a typical worker ranges from 15 to 20 years; and this is probably the reason why policies governing the redistribution of income in old age as featured in contributory, defined benefit social security schemes are so pegged accordingly. Under this scenario and in the absence of portability arrangements, circumstances of labor mobility will undoubtedly waste a considerable number of years of employment service accumulated during a worker’s migration or transfer and, in all probability, also effectively forfeit whatever contributions to the social security institution on account of his membership, together with other benefits that are anchored on these contributions.
HOW TO AVAIL THE BENEFITS ?
Temporary disability and maternity. For the recognition of these benefits, periods of insurance in both countries are summed up, provided they do not overlap.
Disability, retirement and survivors: Each country will separately examine the contributory pension application as follows:
If the interested party is entitled to a pension without having added the insurance periods in the other country, then the pension will be granted without taking into account the contributions made in the other.
If the interested person is not entitled under the previous paragraph, then, the contributions made in both countries will be summed-up, to avail the retirement benefit provided they do not overlap. The amount of the pension will be paid by each country in proportion with the periods of insurance made in that country. Meaning that the total amount of the pension will be received summing up the amount paid by both countries ( example, Philippines 30% and Spain 70% or reverse or 50%-50% depending in the contributions made).
If the total duration of the creditable periods in one of the two countries is less for one year and is not entitled to a pension in that country, the other country will take it as its own, without applying the clause “pro rata” if necessary.
If the insurance periods in the two countries are less for one year, then the general rule for aggregation and pro rata will be applied , if with such aggregation entitlement to benefits in one or both countries will be acquired.
The reduction clauses, suspension or suppression of the pension as a result of the exercise of labor activity under the legislation of one of the countries, will be applicable even if the employment is made by the pensioners in the other country.
These benefits may be received whether the person is residing or staying in Spain or in the Philippines.
Individuals, who meet the requirements of the laws of both countries to qualify for a pension, may perceive this in every one of them. Each country pays its own benefits directly to the beneficiary.
The application of the Agreement allows the examination of the right to benefits in contingencies that would have occurred prior to the date of its entry into force. While the right to the same will be acquired from the date of the request.
Interested parties may request the review of pensions granted before the entry into force of the Agreement, provided they have not taken lump sum compensation.
Occupational Accidents and Occupational Diseases
The right to benefits resulting from accidents or occupational disease shall be determined by the country to under whose legislation the employee is subject to, on the date of the accident or the disease had occurred
Where to submit the applications?
El Centro de Atención e Información de la Seguridad Social mas próximo a su domicilio (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social)
Las Direcciones Provinciales del Instituto Social de la Marina, cuando se trate de trabajadores incluidos en el Régimen Especial de Trabajadores del Mar.
In the Philippines
Social Security System Office of Deputy Administrator Legal and Administration of Internacional Relations.
International Affairs Department, Social Security System ,Philippines, Convenio de Seguridad Social entre el Reino de España y la República de Filipinas, hecho en Manila el 12 de noviembre de 2002. Ministerio de Trabajo y Inmigración, Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social, España, Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE-España))
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