Sunday, July 14, 2024

De Lima Bats For 10-Day Paid Leaves For COVID-19 Positive Employees

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De Lima Bats For 10-Day Paid Leaves For COVID-19 Positive Employees

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has introduced a measure mandating paid pandemic leaves for all qualified employees, whether in public or private sector, who are confirmed cases of COVID-19, during the duration of the pandemic.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2148 seeking to grant 10 working days of paid COVID-19 leave for employees who contracted the virus and need to undergo quarantine and who because of the nature of their occupation, work or activity cannot avail of a telecommuting program or work from home scheme.

“Filipinos valiantly choose to work, to provide for their families and to save the economy, despite the danger this pandemic poses,” said De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

“Thus, 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,” she added.

Reportedly, about 4.5 million Filipinos have lost their jobs in 2020, with the unemployment rate at 10.4 percent – the highest recorded percentage in 15 years, due to the implementation of lockdown which caused businesses and establishments to stop operating.

Moreover, the unemployment rate increased from 8.2% in October 2020 to 8.8% in January 2021, with the CALABARZON and Bicol seen to have double-digit unemployment rates of 13.1% and 11.3%, respectively.

“Despite these numbers, the government sees these as ‘signs of recovery’ but with the re-implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in the country, it appears otherwise,” De Lima pointed out.

Additionally, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) extended for six months to one year the allowable period which permits employers to categorize their employees on “floating status” during the pandemic.

De Lima said 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.

“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 risk of acquiring the virus on the way to and from work and even in the workplace itself,” she added.

Under the measure, an employee who applies for the paid pandemic leave must submit the necessary medical records and other proof of eligibility to the employer for immediate action.

Having one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, the Philippines continues to face a new “record high” of confirmed cases of COVID-19 almost daily. The country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases tally surpassed one million last April 26.

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