Death benefits of Filpino seafarers
A job of a seafarer is not exactly a walk in the park.
Away from his family and working on board vessels sailing non-stop for weeks or months in the world’s oceans,he is mentally and emotionally stressed. He performs duties and responsibilities as instructed or as necessary.
What makes the job more difficult,aside from exposure to fluctuating temperatures caused by variant weather changes,of extreme hot and cold as the ships cross ocean boundaries,not to mention the harsh weather conditions, the job obviously entails laborious manual tasks conducted in a moving ship,which makes them vulnerable to increased work-related stress.
In some instances,a seafarer unfortunately dies due to illness or injury.
The shipping industry and seafaring profession are likewise not without incident or peril.
There are maritime disasters that result in the loss of life of and injury to Filipino seafarers.
Under an employment contract duly approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),in the case of work-related death of the seafarer, during the term of his contract,the employer shall pay his beneficiaries the Philippine currency equivalent to the amount of US$50,000 and an additional amount of US$7,000 to each child under the age of 21 but not exceeding four children,at the exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment.
The amount usually is higher if the death is covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA).
The Case law explains that “the words ‘arising out of’ refer to the origin or cause of the accident,and are descriptive of its character, while the words ‘in the course of’ refer to the time,place,and circumstances under which the accident takes place.
As a matter of general proposition,an injury or accident is said to arise ‘in the course of employment’ when it takes place within the period of the employment,at a place where the employee reasonably may be,and while he is fulfilling his duties or is engaged in doing something incidental thereto.”
Under the 1996 POEA Standard Employment Contract (SEC),for disability or death to be compensable, it was sufficient that the seafarer suffered injury or illness during the term of his employment. The cause of illness or death is immaterial.
However,through the lobbying of the principals and their manning agencies,the restrictive clause “work-related” was added under Section 20(B)of the 2000 POEA SEC to limit their liabilities.
The 2000 POEA SEC defined “work-related injury” as “injury(ies) resulting in disability or death arising out of and in the course of employment” and “work-related illness” as “any sickness resulting to disability or death as a result of an occupational disease listed under Section 32-A of the contract.”
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