By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica is asking her colleagues to push for the passage of a bill seeking to grant a 15-day special leave of absence with full pay to all legitimate spouses of overseas workers in the public and private sectors.
She said as seven out of 10 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are married, millions of households are suffering from the long separation of husband and wives, of fathers and children, and of mothers and children.
“Family members left behind are forced to take up additional roles and responsibilities, with spouses of migrant workers taking the role of both mother and father in order to compensate for the absence of the migrant parent. The demands of this dual role often take its toll on the OFW spouse, leaving him or her unable to carry out or attend to all the needs of their family,” Villarica said
She filed House Bill 7573 that provides that every legitimate spouse-employee of an overseas worker in the private and public sectors shall be entitled to an overseas worker’s spouse leave of 15 days a year with full pay.
“The 15-day leave credit may be used by the OFW spouse to attend to the needs of their family, or to give the OFW and his or her family time to reconnect, ” Villarica said.
“Given the objective of the bill is to protect the Filipino family, its approval is most earnestly sought, ” she said.
Under HB 7573, employees availing such privilege shall submit to their employer the following: name of spouse, copy of their marriage contract, information as to the nature and place of work of the overseas workers concerned, and copy of the overseas worker’s passport.
The following employees shall not be allowed to avail of this leave: those who are absent from work without official leave; those who are on vacation, sick, forced or study leave, or those who have already availed of other forms of leave allowed by law; and those whose services are necessary to prevent loss of life or damage to property, brought about by serious accidents, fired, floods, typhoons, earthquake, epidemic or other disasters.
HB 7573 provides that employers in nongovernment institutions granting such benefit shall be accorded income tax deduction from its gross income for each taxable year, based on the actual cost paid by the employer in granting this leave benefit to its qualified employees.
Violators of the proposed Act shall be slapped with a fine not exceeding P25,000 or one-month to six-month imprisonment.
The measure tasks the Secretary of Labor and Employment and the chairman of the Civil Service Commission to issue the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.