10 days of paid leave sought for workers who get COVID-19

10 days of paid leave sought for workers who get COVID-19
Medical frontliners in personal protective equipment attend to patients staying at the lobby-turned-extension for the emergency room of the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina City on April 29, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker on Sunday introduced a measure for paid leaves for qualified employees who test positive for the coronavirus during the duration of the pandemic.

Sen. Leila de Lima filed Senate Bill No. 2148 to grant 10 working days of paid COVID-19 leave for employees who contract the virus and need to undergo quarantine and who are unable to work via telecommuting or a work-from-home arrangement.

Under the Labor Code, employees are entitled to five days service incentive leave a year.

Under the measure, an employee, whether in the public or private sector, who applies for the paid pandemic leave must submit medical records and other proof of eligibility to the employer for immediate action.

“Filipinos valiantly choose to work, to provide for their families and to save the economy, despite the danger this pandemic poses,” said De Lima.

“It is only right that these employees be provided with the incentive of having paid leaves when they are confirmed to be COVID-19 positive and they need to undergo quarantine or isolation."

Per the Philippine Statistics Authority's annual labor force survey, some 4.5 million Filipinos lost their jobs in 2020, good for an unemployment rate of 10.4 percent—the highest recorded percentage in 15 years, due to the implementation of lockdown which caused businesses and establishments to stop operating.

The senator added that granting the 10-day pandemic leave for employees not only protects the welfare of workers and their families but also ensures occupational safety and health in workplaces and avoids further spread of the virus in the workplace.

To recall, the Department of Labor and Employment extended for six months to one year the allowable period for employers to categorize their employees on “floating status” during the pandemic.

Labor groups on Saturday held Labor Day protests to call for a P100 daily wage subsidy and P10,000 cash aid for the poor and jobless.

“With the colossal and detrimental effects of the pandemic, employees are forced to stay in a job that is low paying despite health hazards due to the virus and consequences of contractualization,” she said.

“Those who are gainfully employed, while fortunate, struggle to do their jobs by personally reporting to their workplace despite the risk of acquiring the virus on the way to and from work and even in the workplace itself."

To date, the country's health department has recorded 1,046,653 coronavirus cases since the pathogen first emerged over a year ago. 

The Philippines is still under the world's longest quarantine, 411 days since the first enhanced community quarantine was hoisted. 

Franco Luna with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio

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