House approves 14-day paid pandemic leave bill
MANILA, Philippines — The House labor and employment committee has approved a measure providing a 14-day paid pandemic leave to workers in a bid to give them further relief amid the crisis.
In an online hearing on Friday, the panel chaired by 1Pacman Rep. Enrico Pineda gave the green light to House Bill No. 7909 or the Paid Pandemic Leave Law of 2020.
The measure was authored by Representatives Arlene Brosas, Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, Eufemia Cullamat, France Castro, and Sarah Jane Elago of the Makabayan bloc.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines did not pose any objection to the measure, which gives workers additional benefits to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of this measure … hundreds of thousands or even millions of Filipino workers have been placed in a very precarious situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brosas said in her sponsorship speech during the hearing.
She stressed the importance of additional paid leaves for workers, whose vacation and sick leaves may have run out if they were unable to take on a work-from-home arrangement.
“Around 3.8 million workers were unemployed based on the conservative October 2020 labor force estimate, and the declining labor force participation rate during the same period showed that more and more Filipinos are joining the pool of discouraged workers. We cannot afford to add more workers to these statistical categories,” Brosas said.
The measure aims “to ensure occupational safety and health in workplaces, and to promote the protection of labor and the spillover effects of the pandemic on the economy.”
It grants a full 14-day paid leave if the private sector employee is a confirmed, probable or suspected case of COVID-19 or other emerging infectious diseases that reached the status of a pandemic.
As to workers who were rendered involuntarily out of work or placed on floating status by his employer, the bill gives a maximum of 60 days of paid leave at 80 percent of their daily pay.
Employees applying for paid pandemic leave should submit medical records and proof of eligibility to the employer for immediate action, with processing not to exceed three days.
The government will reimburse the employer for the payment of the pandemic leave benefits, using available funds from the DOLE, Social Security System, and generated savings. INQ
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