Lawmaker cites labor ‘horror stories,’ calls for bill’s passage


CITING untold horror stories that “floating workers” and workers with chopped wages have reached 388,000 since January, a lawmaker is calling for a bill granting paid leave.

House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene D. Brosas of Gabriela Party-list last Sunday called on the Palace to certify House Bill (HB) 7909, or the “Paid Pandemic Leave” bill as urgent, so that Congress can expedite its passage once its resumes its session on Monday next week.

Brosas said the measure is not just for Covid-19 infected workers but for workers who remain in “floating status” due to temporary closures and reduced operations of companies.

“We need to prioritize the paid pandemic leave bill; this [bill] covers floating workers due to economic disruptions brought by the pandemic,” she added.

Based on Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) data, Brosas said nearly 400,000 Filipino workers are affected by the temporary closures of 12,409 establishments since January. The bulk of these workers were in the accommodation and food service activities, the DOLE data revealed.

“This means nearly 400,000 families are living with vastly reduced income levels and are possibly sliding down to informal modes of work to make ends meet, on top of the millions of workers who permanently lost their jobs under the pandemic,” Brosas said.

Under HB 7909, 14 days of paid additional leave at full pay will be granted to Covid-19-exposed workers, while a maximum of 60 days paid leave at 80 percent pay will be provided to “floating workers” or those involuntarily out of work but still employed amid the pandemic effects on enterprises.

“Filipino workers are still compelled to report to work because of ‘no work, no pay schemes’ [despite strict restriction] Worst, they are either required to work without hazard pay or be placed on unpaid forced leave or floating status. This is why the government should certify as urgent the Makabayan bloc’s [HB 7909] to provide social safety nets in place as workers and their families continue to suffer from income losses,” Brosas said.

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