THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) urged all employers in the private sector to "adopt and implement" a paid isolation and quarantine leave program for Covid-affected workers.

In its Labor Advisory 01, series of 2022, issued Monday, January 17, 2022, DOLE said the paid isolation and quarantine program should be implemented on top of the existing leave benefits that employees are entitled to under the company policy, Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Labor Code of the Philippines and special laws.

"The paid isolation and quarantine leaves shall be without prejudice to other benefits provided by the Social Security System and the Employees' Compensation Commission," it added.

Under the employees' compensation benefits program of the Employees Compensation Commission, employees -- who are paying members of the Social Security System -- who are hospitalized and confined for Covid-19 will be compensated throughout their hospital confinement including the cost of medicine, doctor's fee, and rehabilitation.

The agency also stressed that employees who are either close contact, suspected, probable or confirmed Covid-19 cases must complete the home-based or facility-based quarantine or isolation period required under existing government policies.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced a shortened quarantine period of seven to 10 days for the general public depending on their vaccination status.

DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said last week that the shortened quarantine period was based on studies that showed the virus load deteriorates after a few days of infection, which makes a person no longer infectious.

“Ang isang tao, infected right now, specifically no, especially if you are having the Omicron variant, it takes three to six days and then the virus load goes down,” she said.

She advised, though, that the public must follow the minimum health protocols, such as the wearing of face masks, frequent disinfection and maintenance of physical distancing, to avoid transmission of the virus.

The DOLE said Monday’s advisory on paid isolation and quarantine leaves was issued to ensure safe and human working conditions through compliance with the general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards, as well as the minimum public health protocols stressed by the DOH.

Under the paid isolation and quarantine leave benefit, all exposed employees who have to undergo isolation and quarantine (at home or in a facility) for several days and not yet confined to a hospital but have exhausted all his/her company-offered leave benefits will continue to receive their wages from their employer throughout isolation.

Employees who contracted the coronavirus can receive compensation but not those who need to be placed in isolation and quarantine for observation following preliminary positive test results. (LMY/PNA/SunStar Philippines)