Based on reports, 3.8 million Filipinos were jobless as of October 2020, presumably owing to lockdowns that have forced thousands of small businesses to shut down. Those still employed meanwhile have to contend with the fear of catching COVID-19 on their way to and from work and the possibility of staying in quarantine and losing their job. 

In response, the House recently passed the Paid Pandemic Leave Law of 2020, which provides a 14-day paid leave to workers who have contracted COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases. The measure shall “ensure occupational safety and health in workplaces, and promote the protection of labor (amid) the spillover effects of the pandemic on the economy.”

Those suspected to have COVID-19 or were exposed to COVID-19 patients are also covered by the law. A pandemic leave of up to 60 days will be given to workers who were rendered involuntarily out of work or were placed under floating status. The law applies to the private sector and other establishments included in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

“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,” says Rep. Arlene Brosas, one of the authors of the law.

Failure to comply with the law will subject employers to a fine of between P20,000 to P200,000. Funding for the law will be sourced from the Department of Labor and Employment’s annual budget.