Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas is pushing for the institutionalization of paid pandemic leaves in the private sector as a way to encourage isolation of workers who have been exposed to COVID-positive cases.

Arlene Brosas - Solon proposes pandemic leave for workers
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas

Brosas has filed House Bill No.7909 batting for the provision of other benefits to workers who have been placed on forced leave amid the pandemic.

“This measure complements the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Law which we principally authored as this prevents workplaces from being COVID-19 hotspots while providing economic relief to distressed workers,” said the Makabayan lawmaker.

Under the measure, 14 days of paid additional leave with full pay will be granted to COVID-exposed workers while a maximum of 60 days paid leave with 80 percent pay will be granted to floating workers or those involuntarily out of work due to the effects of the pandemic but are nonetheless still considered employed by the affected company.

“Dapat na may tulong rin sila mula sa gobyerno (They should also be entitled to government aid),” she added, noting that these floating workers are not covered by existing social amelioration programs.

Brosas said a floating minimum wage earner can get around P11,000 in leave benefits per month for two months under the measure.

As a justification for HB No.7909, she said that the number of sick leaves that most companies give to workers simply isn’t enough especially then the worker needs to undergo self-quarantine.

Brosas said the proposed pandemic leave benefits will be sourced from available funds from the Department of Labor and Employment, Social Security System, and generated savings during the duration of the pandemic.

“Kaya hindi dapat maging additional burden ito sa mga kumpanya (That’s why this shouldn’t become an additional burden to companies). Paid pandemic leave benefits must be shouldered by the national government,” she said.

Employers who willfully refuse to grant paid pandemic leaves will be penalized under the measure.

The additional paid leaves will be on top of existing leaves under the Labor Code and collective bargaining agreements, Brosas said.

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