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Bill proposing paid pandemic leave hurdles committee level

The Health department on Tuesday reported 1,357 new coronavirus disease 2019 infections, bringing the total to 504,084. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE HOUSE Committee on Labor and Employment approved in principle the bill that will grant paid leave to workers who contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and those placed on floating status during the pandemic.

The draft committee report was approved by the panel, subject to amendments, 1-PACMAN Rep. Enrico A. Pineda said during Tuesday’s hearing.

In its last version, the draft committee report on the proposed “Paid Pandemic Leave Law,” seeks to provide a 14-day paid leave to workers who contracted COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.

Also covered are workers who are suspected to have contracted COVID-19 or were exposed to a COVID-19 patient.

A pandemic leave of up to 60 days will be granted to those who were rendered involuntarily out of work or were placed under a floating status.

The coronavirus pandemic that prompted the government to impose a lockdown since mid-March last year led to the displacement of Filipino workers.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported the number of umemployed stood at 7.3 million in April 2020. This declined to 3.8 million in October 2020.

The initial version proposed to grant pay equivalent to the worker’s basic pay including benefits and other additional compensation, but lawmakers resolved to instead grant the basic pay.

“Everybody’s affected here, not only employees, even employers. Ang tinitingnan lang natin dito ’yung employees eh,” Baguio Rep. Mark O. Go said during the hearing. “Look at both and I think considering this is an additional leave the concept of basic pay will be more reasonable.”

The bill will be applied to the private sector, including establishments under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

Upon approval, the panel referred the bill to the Appropriations Committee to settle the provision that will source the funding for the measure from the annual budget of the Department of Labor and Employment. The initial version proposed to use available funds from the Social Security System.

Failure to comply with the law will subject employers to a fine of between P20,000 to P200,000. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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