DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez (Screengrab from Laging Handa)

MANILA – Employers in the private sector have so far been cooperative with the advisory urging them to grant paid isolation and quarantine leave benefits to workers infected with coronavirus, an official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday.

“We have not heard any objections from employers, small or big (establishments),” Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said in a Laging Handa briefing, referring to Labor Advisory No. 1 released on January 17.

Benavidez, however, clarified that the grant of such leave benefits is optional.

“Granting quarantine leave is not mandatory. We only encourage the businessmen to, if possible, provide additional leave benefit for quarantine or isolation,” he said.

Benavidez added that before the advisory was issued, some companies are already providing additional leave benefits to their workers.

“The day after (the advisory was issued) there were callers seeking clarification. In fact, before issuing an advisory, there are companies that provide additional leaves just for the workers to continue to receive wages while in isolation or quarantine,” he said.

He, however, added that workers may avail of assistance from the Employees' Compensation Commission (ECC), in case their employers find it hard to provide additional leave benefits.

“The ECC provides cash assistance, medical reimbursement, and sickness benefits. This is for all employees who contracted Covid-19 at work or because of work. Covid-19 is an occupational disease,” he said.

Benavidez, meanwhile, said the ECC's proposal to increase the cash aid from PHP10,000 to PHP30,000 for workers who will contract Covid-19 is still awaiting approval from the Office of the President.

For now, he said workers may apply for EC benefit with the Social Security System (SSS) for private-sector workers and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for government employees. (PNA)