5-day calamity leave pushed anew

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 5) — In the wake of recent earthquakes, Senator Leila de Lima renewed her call for the passage of a law granting a five-day emergency leave for workers affected by natural disasters.

In a statement on Tuesday, De Lima pushed for Senate Bill No. 1123, a proposal she refiled in October after failing to pass during the previous Congress.

Once enacted, the measure shall be known as the "Calamity Leave Law." It entitles disaster-stricken employees to a special emergency leave with pay five days per year. It will be made available once a state of calamity is declared by the President or by local government officials. In the absence of such declaration, employers would have the discretion to grant the leave.

"The special emergency leave can be applied for five straight working days or on staggered basis and will not be deducted from the employee's leave credits," the bill states.

These can be used by workers who are either stranded or sick because of typhoon, earthquake, and other natural disasters, as well as those who are taking care of immediate family members or are conducting repair or cleanup of damaged houses.

It can be availed within 10 days from the time the calamity struck. Unused leaves under the act will not be cumulative or converted into cash.

"The profound environmental effect of natural disasters and/or calamities to the nation is inevitable, and it is for that reason this proposed measure seeks to at the very least soften the blow of the unforeseen and the inescapable," said De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

The series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao left at least 23 people dead last week. Some 28,000 individuals remain in evacuation centers, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The agency is still coming up with the official full assessment of damages from the back-to-back temblors on October 29 and 31, which were followed by numerous aftershocks.

READ: How to help disaster survivors cope with trauma