By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A neophyte solon has filed a bill granting disaster service volunteers a five-day paid leave during period of disasters.
Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said the country needs trained volunteers that would actively respond during typhoon, volcanic eruption, earthquakes, landslides and other similar calamities.
“The State established the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) to address and provide a proactive disaster reduction and response agency. However, the State does not have the substantial number of trained volunteers nor a holistic program that will address a specific disaster and recruitment that will encourage support from the community,” he said.
House Bill 7789 or the proposed Disaster Service Volunteer Leave Act provides that an employee of an agency who is certified disaster service volunteer shall be granted leave from work with pay, for up to an aggregate of five days, consecutively or non-consecutively in any 12-month period to participate in specialized disaster relief services for the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
An employee of any private sector business who is certified disaster service volunteer may be granted the same benefits.
“The purpose of the bill seeks to promote volunteerism by granting the volunteers, who are also employees of the government and private sector, to participate in disaster relief activities during calamities and disaster without incurring absences from their respective work,” Sy-Alvarado said.
House Bill 7789 provides that an employee of an agency shall be compensated by the employing agency at the employee’s regular rate of pay for those regular work hours during which the employee is absent from work, but shall not receive overtime pay, night shift differential pay, hazardous duty pay or any other form of pay or compensation in addition to the employer’s regular pay.
An employee who is granted leave shall not lose any seniority or any already accumulated vacation time, sick time or earned overtime due to such leave, according to the bill.
The government shall not be liable for workers’ compensation claims arising from accident or injury, while an employee is on assignment as a certified disaster service volunteers for the PRC, the measure said.
Sy-Alvarado said the employee’s activities and job functions while on leave shall be determined and controlled solely by the PRC.
The bill tasks the Civil Service Commission (CSC), after consultation and coordination with the government agencies, including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC), PRC, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to promulgate and issue the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.