5-day ‘mental wellness’ leave sought for workers

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
5-day âmental wellnessâ leave sought for workers
The House of Representatives plenary hall on October 13, 2020.
House of Representatives / Release

MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to grant mental wellness leave to workers has been filed in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 6253 or the proposed “Mental Wellness Leave Act” grants five days of additional leave in addition to existing mandatory vacation and sick leaves.

Bill author Rep. Alfred delos Santos of Ang Probinsyano party-list said the additional leave could be used to consult with mental health professionals, undergo therapy or take a break from daily stress.

Delos Santos said the bill also requires employers to implement programs promoting workers’ mental health.

The Philippine Mental Health Law, which took effect on July 5, 2018, is a rights-based mental health bill that protects workers availing themselves of psychiatric, neurologic and psychological help from stigma and discrimination.

Delos Santos cited the need to widen the scope on the Philippine Mental Health Law, to include a prevention program that would address the rising depressive disorders and suicide rates caused by the pandemic.

Data from the Department of Health shows 17 million Filipinos suffer from depression.

The National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline said it received more than 11,000 calls in 2020, up by 247 percent from 3,000 in 2019.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our workers were struggling from combined pressures brought by their jobs, families and even social media. The pandemic exacerbated the burden with fear and anxiety. This is very evident among our frontliners and essential workers,” Delos Santos said.

“Such programs will ease the stress among our workers. Employers stand to gain from this as workers receiving such aid can become more productive,” he added.
The Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) has expressed support to the proposal.

ECC executive director Stella Zipangan-Banawis acknowledged that the proposed measure is essential and compensable.


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