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Human resources group calls for free COVID-19 testing for MSME employees

The People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) on Thursday called on the government to provide free testing to private sector employees, especially those working for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

In an emailed statement, PMAP said the government should consider shouldering the costs of testing for MSME employees given the limited financial capacity of such businesses.

"We also call on government to make testing free and accessible especially to MSMEs and their workers, whose productivity contributes so much to reducing inequality, are especially vulnerable. Yet their capacity to finance testing for themselves may be less," the statement read.

The PMAP is a professional non-stock, non-profit organization of over 1,800 member companies and individual management executives involved in human resource management and industrial relations.

"Including them in testing programs is therefore essential to MSME owners, to ease the burden of having to bear the social and financial costs of the global health crisis," it added.

According to the latest data available from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 99.52% of the total 1.003 million business establishments in the country as of 2018 were MSMEs.

Micro enterprises are defined as those with total assets worth less than P50,000; cottage enterprises with assets worth P50,001 to P500,000; small with P500,001 to P5 million; and medium from over P5 million to P20 million.

"Local workers and employers are the primary drivers of the Philippine economy towards recovery. As such they need protection and assistance to ensure their health and safety," said PMAP.

"By protecting our workers, we are protecting their families and the community and we are promoting a productive environment where people feel safe and secure," it added.

In the same statement, PMAP also called on workers and employers to ensure that safety and health measures are carried out in their respective workplaces and other public spaces. 

Several private firms in the country have already started to test their employees for the coronavirus disease.

Earlier this week, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government will not shoulder the cost of mass testing of employees returning to work. —LDF, GMA News