Solon seeks granting of two-week family and medical leave for employees

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in partnership with SM Malls conduct nationwide jobs fair in celebration of Labor Day (May 1). Over 310,000 jobs are offered to qualified applicants. Photo shows applicants line up at Mall Event Center of SM Manila. (MNS photo)

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in partnership with SM Malls conduct nationwide jobs fair in celebration of Labor Day (May 1). Over 310,000 jobs are offered to qualified applicants. Photo shows applicants line up at Mall Event Center of SM Manila. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – A neophyte lawmaker is seeking the granting of two weeks of unpaid leave a year to employees whose spouse, parent, unmarried child or who themselves suffer from serious illness.

Rep. Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque City) raised this proposal through House Bill No. 4317 or the “Family and Medical Leave Act of 2014” which aims to give employees a new venue to attend further to their family and medical needs without necessarily compromising the workers’ future income.

Tambunting, a vice chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, noted that during prolonged sickness, most often than not, accumulated sick and vacation leaves are consumed by employees to attend to such exigency. Members of the families are also obliged to attend to said incapability, according to him.

“Under such exigency, the employees are obliged to monetize accumulated leave credits to augment their financial burden thereby reducing the amount employees are to receive upon terminal or separation from employment. Hence, diminishing the retirement money that will help them in their twilight years of non-employment,” said Tambunting.

He said his proposal complements the constitutional provision that “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.”

House Bill 4317 provides it is the policy of the State to reinforce the importance of the family as the primary social institution of society. The State shall support and uphold the health and well-being of the family, the bill further provides.

The bill, now pending at the committee on labor and employment chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), provides that any employee, regardless of status, may apply for and shall be granted by the employer an unpaid family and medical leave of up to two weeks when the worker’s spouse, parent or unmarried child suffers from a serious illness.

Spouses working for the same employer when availing of the benefits under the proposed Act shall only be granted a combined total of two weeks of unpaid leave. The employee may also apply for the same if he himself is physically unable to perform his job due to serious illness, the bill provides.

It provides that the leave application shall be accompanied by a notarized medical certificate duly accomplished by a licensed physician. The medical certificate should clearly state the nature and extent of the illness.

Furthermore, the employee availing of the leave benefits shall, upon return, be reinstated to his original position with equivalent pay, benefits and all other terms and conditions of employment.

The two-week leave may be availed of by the employee in parts, but no remainder thereof shall be carried over the succeeding year. Furthermore, no accumulated leave credits shall accrue in favor of the employee for every year of service.

The proposed leave benefits shall not diminish or affect whatever vested rights and benefits the employee is already receiving under the law, collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or from the employer. The employee who is already receiving a similar unpaid leave benefit under the law or CBA shall only be entitled to a maximum of four weeks of unpaid leave benefit, the bill provides.

Lastly, the bill provides the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to effectively implement the proposed Act. (MNS)

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