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Senator proposes 10-day paid leave for COVID-19 infection

OPPOSITION Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a measure seeking to grant a 10-day paid leave for workers who will get coronavirus infection.

Ms. De Lima last week filed Senate Bill No. 2148 mandating pandemic leave credits for employees who test positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including those who are asymptomatic but cannot work from home or in isolation facilities.

“Filipinos valiantly choose to work, to provide for their families and to save the economy, despite the danger this pandemic poses,” the explanatory note of the bill read. “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,” the senator wrote.

Ms. De Lima said the pandemic has forced employees to stay in their low paying jobs despite the health hazards, while many others lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

The measure “ensures occupational safety and health in workplaces, further spread of the virus in the workplace and at the same time protects the welfare of our employees and their families.”

Under the proposed law, the employee must submit medical records to avail of the paid pandemic leave. It shall be deemed approved if not acted upon within five days.

The Social Security System for the private sector and the Government Service Insurance System for government workers will reimburse the paid coronavirus leaves to the employers.

The unused leaves under the bill shall not be cumulative and converted to cash.

Further, availing the paid leave shall not be used as reason for “misconduct, demotion, or termination in employment, or for any form of unsatisfactory performance,” it read.

The COVID-19 leave credits will be on top of existing sick leaves and other benefits. Employers who will refuse to grant the leaves will be fined ranging from P20,000 to P200,000, according to the bill.

The Civil Service Commission and the Labor department, in consultation with labor, trade, and employers groups, will review the conduct of the paid leaves within a month after the implementation. Concerned government agencies shall issue rules and regulations a month after the effectivity of the law, the bill read. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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