WE APPRECIATE Renato Magtubo’s letter (Inquirer, 2/2/11), which welcomed RN Heals, and called for reforms. May we, however, clarify some inaccuracies in the letter.
First, the RN Heals is not an employment program; neither is it meant to foster cheap labor. It is a bridging mechanism primarily designed to provide registered but unemployed nurses the necessary practical experience they need in order to qualify and be employed as full-time nurses in hospitals, clinics and other related institutions; also to train them—for a period of six months to one year (the minimum entry-level length of work experience that the local nursing sector usually requires from job-seekers)—in delivering essential health services.
Second, the law providing for mandatory benefits due a worker in the country is not applicable to RN Heals nurses who will be deployed as trainees. Nonetheless, we have ensured that their welfare, including subsistence needs, will be well provided for in the course of their training. The local government unit where they will be assigned will provide them board and lodging and ensure their safety and security. The LGU may also provide each of them with additional allowances and benefits worth at least P2,000 a month, on top of the monthly P8,000 allowance the trainees will receive from the Department of Health, which collaborates with the Department of Labor and Employment, the Board of Nursing of the Professional Regulations Commission and the Philippine Nurses Association, in the implementation of RN Heals.
In view of the limited funds, only 10,000 trainees will be accommodated into RN Heals this year. Another batch will be trained next year as the government intends to sustain the project.
Private hospitals are included in establishments that the DOLE, under its new Labor Enhancement Action Program (LEAP), will inspect in line with its thrust to improve employers’ compliance with general labor, occupational safety and health standards.
With regard to the so-called on-the-job training fees, the Philippine Hospital Association recently announced that it has put an end to the practice among its member-hospitals. The DOLE, nonetheless, will continue to find ways to protect the welfare of nurses and other medical workers. We aim to engage our industry partners in the medical sector in collaborative tripartite undertakings that will promote employment and protect the welfare of medical workers, in line with President Aquino’s labor and employment policy which emphasizes the protection of workers’ rights and public-private partnership in promoting industrial peace based on social justice.
—NICON F. FAMERONAG,
director, Department of Labor and Employment,
Labor Communications Office