DOLE Labor Advisory 2022-01 – DOLE urges employers to give quarantine leaves and paid isolation benefits

DOLE urges the private sector employers to give paid isolation and quarantine leave benefits to their employees, to help reduce their workload and burden during home-based or facility-based quarantines once diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued an advisory that urges private sector employers to provide paid isolation and quarantine leave benefits to their employees. This hopes to ease the burden on workers as they undergo home-based or facility-based quarantine after being classified as a COVID-19 close contact, suspect, probable, or confirmed case.

The advisory, issued January 17, 2022, stated that it aims "to ensure safe and humane working conditions" amidst the pandemic. DOLE urges employers to adopt appropriate said programs after consulting with their workers or a representative.  

DOLE further states that other existing leave benefits indicated in the company’s policy, Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Labor Code of the Philippines, and special laws should all still separately apply. It also notes that "paid isolation and quarantine leaves shall be without prejudice to other benefits provided by the Social Security System and the Employees' Compensation Commission."

This advisory considers the Department of Health’s updated COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, which states that COVID-19 patients who have been fully vaccinated and display mild or lack of symptoms are only required to isolate for seven (7) days. The guidelines clarify that if a patient has not completed their vaccination, they must be separated for ten (10) days.

The ten days of quarantine are meant for mild cases. If a patient exhibits severe or critical infection, they would be isolated for twenty-one (21) days, despite their vaccination status.

The guidelines mention that fully vaccinated close contacts of those infected would only need to isolate for five (5) days. Still, their symptoms will have to be monitored for fourteen (14) days—those who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated need to quarantine for two weeks.

In a statement published by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), ECOP welcomed the “voluntary nature” of the Labor Advisory.

ECOP’s statement reads:

“While ECOP does not see the need for the issuance of the said Advisory, urging employers to cover the cost of quarantine and isolation of their workers on a voluntary basis is understandable.

Prior to the issuance, ECOP cautioned the DOLE that the following realities must always be taken into account: 1) While large companies are making every effort to support employees by adopting flexible work arrangements, offering free transportation services, and even providing vaccines, to name a few, they are now also struggling with significant increases in cost and reductions in efficiency and productivity, and 2) Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise 99.51% of the country’s businesses and contribute about 60% of the workforce, are deeply constrained by quarantine restrictions and still reeling from the brunt of the pandemic. Additional burden, one that is mandatory, would definitely hurt companies, and eventually impact on employment.”