DOLE urges paid quarantine, isolation leave for workers

DOLE urges paid quarantine, isolation leave for workers
Commuters queue for a ride at an EDSA-Carousel bus stop near Main Avenue along EDSA in Quezon City on January 4, 2020, the first day of the resumption of work for 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The labor department is urging but not requiring employers to put in place paid isolation and quarantine leaves for workers who have to go on home or facility-based quarantine as well as those who are confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The Department of Labor on Monday issued Labor Advisory 01 s. 2022 requiring all employees in the private sector who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases or are suspect, probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases to quarantine or isolate at home or in a facility as a measure to keep the coronavirus from spreading further.

As it is, the positivity rate in Metro Manila is at 50%, meaning one in every two samples tested is positive for the coronavirus, according to the OCTA think tank. 

"Employers  are urged, in consultation with the employees or employees'  representative if any, to adopt and implement an appropriate paid isolation and  quarantine leave program  on top of existing  leave benefits  under the  company  policy,  Collective  Bargaining  Agreement, the Labor Code of the Philippines, and special laws," the advisory reads.

Although many have been able to shift to remote work or Work From Home arrangements since the pandemic struck in March 2020, many more have to report to work on-site, even at limited capacity due to Alert Level 3 restrictions.

"The  paid isolation and quarantine leaves  shall be without prejudice  to other benefits  provided by the Social Security  System and the Employees Compensation Commission," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in the advisory.

Quarantine and isolation protocols

Under Department of Health Department Memorandum 2022-0013, fully-vaccinated asymptomatic close contacts of people who either have symptoms of COVID-19 or are potential coronavirus cases must quarantine for at least five days from potential expsoure. They may end their quarantine if they remain asymptomatic during that period.

Quarantine is longer — 14 days from possible exposure — for people who are asyymptomatic but are either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

Asymptomatic people under quarantine will not be required to get tested for COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms during quarantine.

"All asymptomatic close contacts shall conduct symptom monitoring for at least 14 days, regardless of shortened quarantine period. They shall strictly observe minimum public health standards, including physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of masks, among others, regardless of vaccination status," the DOH said in its memorandum.

Isolation, which is for people who have already tested positive for COVID-19, lasts at least seven days for fully-vaccinated people who are asymptomatic while it will last at least 10 days for asymptomatic people who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

Repeat testing is not required unless they develop symptoms.

The length of isolation for symptomatic people who have been vaccinated is seven days while those who have yet to complete their vaccination will have to isolate for 10 days.

If the symptoms are moderate, isolation will be for 10 days while those with severe symptoms must isolate for 21 days. — Jonathan de Santos





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