Ang Nars, Inc. Position Paper on Unemployment and Underemployment

Ang Nars, Inc. Position Paper on Unemployment and Underemployment
Written by: Leah Primitiva G. Samaco-Paquiz, Founding President

Ang Nars denounces the present condition of many professional Filipino nurses who are unemployed or underemployed.

From 1998 to 2008, the Philippines produced 230,225 registered nurses, creating the problems of unemployment and underemployment. The profession is confronted with serious problems, notably the lack of employment possibilities, positions lower than the applicants’ professional qualifications, inadequate wages and poor working conditions. These are real problems as evidenced by the Philippine Nursing Compensation Survey commissioned by the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) in the year 2009.

Nurses have become vulnerable victims of unfair labor practices. Society does not afford respect and value to the nursing profession. Our nurses have become apathetic to insults and abuses and have become “willing volunteers” performing regular functions without pay in order to augment their daily survival needs.

All over the country, the major stakeholders are the hospital owners, hospital administrators, medical directors, governors and mayors. They do not open new positions for nurses, or even worse, they do not fill up vacated plantilla positions in order to save on salaries. Others even earn from the training fees for new nurses. All these are part of their revenue generation schemes or cost cutting measures to augment operational budgets. The major stakeholders do not hire regular staff nurses because they will be forced to pay them bigger salaries. This is the the so-called “kalakaran,” or the twisted system that has been implemented over time.

This is where unemployment and underemployment come in because the practice of “on-the-job training” and “enforced volunteerism” are rampant in both private and government institutions.


Ang Nars found out that in one district hospital there were 14 regular nurse positions for a 50-bed capacity hospital. Eight (8) positions were filled which included the chief nurse’s and the supervisor’s positions. but the remaining six positions were not occupied.

The regular staff nurses’ starting salaries were at Grade 11 as provided in the Salary Standardization Law of 2010. The increase in their salaries will be divided into four and will be given within four years’ time starting this year.

The chief nurse and the three supervisors work the morning shift. There are five nurses left who work three shifts: the 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM shift, the 3:00 PM – 11:00 PM shift and the 11:00 PM – 7:00 AM shift. These nurses receive two days off each.

With a 50-patient capacity, there should be at least be a ratio of 1 nurse for every 6 patients in the day shift, meaning there should be 5 nurses for that shift. However, in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the ratio should be 1:1; if there are three patients in the ICU, then three more nurses are needed. Nurses are needed in the Operating and Emergency Rooms, as well.

In order to address the staffing problem, in Capiz hospital has devised the Job Order List System. All nurses are asked to apply for open position at the governor’s office. The governor then accepts applicants in the form of job orders. Applicants usually employ the help of backers or the “palakasan system” in order to get a job order.

The salary for one job order amounts to P175.00 and is funded by the province. One nurse should be receiving a salary of P175.00; however ONE job order employs FOUR casual nurses so that each nurse only earns P43.75 a day. The permanent nurses who have job orders work for 12 hours with a salary of only P175.00

There are other forms of underemployment practiced at this hospital. One of these is the practice of keeping the status of nurses as “casual” for a number of years. There are some nurses who have been working for 10 years as casual employees. Others work as nursing aides or accept salaries that are way below the minimum wage. The hospital has even allowed the salary for one plantilla position to be divided between two nurses.


In private hospitals, a nurse can work as an “on-the-job trainee (OJT) or volunteer” who undergoes a three-month training period without a salary. Instead, the nurse pays a fee in order to work for the hospital. They also do not receive any promise or prospects of permanent employment; either they leave at the end of their stint, or, if they are lucky, they can become one of the following:

a. Relievers – paid P250.00 a day;
b. Probationary Nurses – paid P250.00 a day.
c. Regular Nurses – paid a salary of P290.00 per day. The shortest period before becoming a regular nurse is six months.
d. Casual Nurse – paid P3000.00 a month
e. Contractual Nurse – paid P5000.00 a month. Contractual nurses lose their jobs after five months.

After their short “OJT” or “enforced volunteer”, “enforced trainee” stint, they are given:

a. Certificates of completion as TRAINEES/VOLUNTEERS and
b. Letters of reference

Competent professional nurses who have earned enough skills are in fact eligible by law for employment and should be accorded the corresponding remuneration and benefits on an entry level. THESE NURSES WANT TO WORK AND EARN A LIVING.



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