As the Civil Service Commission (CSC) reiterates its call for government agencies and their employees to take necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 or COVID-19 in the workplace, it released interim guidelines on the use of leave credits for absences due to self-quarantine and/or treatment relative to COVID-19.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 5, series of 2020 issued yesterday, provides the guidelines for the availment of leave for public sector employees as well as ensure that precautionary measures are employed in government offices to avoid the spread of the virus in the workplace.
Public sector officials and employees whether permanent, temporary, provisional, substitute, coterminous, casual, contractual or fixed term who feel sick with COVID-19 like symptoms or have been exposed to persons infected with the virus are directed to immediately inform their supervisor; voluntarily seek immediate medical attention and/or go on self-quarantine, upon the advice and certification of a licensed physician.
Moreover, government workers who have history of travel from China and its Special Administrative Regions (Macau and Hongkong) as well as from other countries declared or identified by competent Philippine authorities prior to and after the issuance of CSC M.C. No. 5, s. 2020 must ensure that they have submitted themselves to “self-quarantine” in their homes or any appropriate health facility for 14 calendar days upon arrival in the Philippines. They shall not report back to work unless the self-quarantine period has elapsed or they are issued with a clearance as being fit to go back to work by proper health authorities.
The absences relative to the prescribed 14-day self-quarantine of government officials and employees with history of travel to COVID-19 restricted countries as well as for frontline service providers such as but not limited to public health workers, immigration officers, consular officers, who are directed to go on self-quarantine, will not be deducted from the earned leave credits. However, after the self-quarantine period has elapsed or the official/employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 14-day period, the absences shall be charged from their sick leave credits.
For public officials and employees who have to take care of family members positive with COVID-19, absence from work shall be charged against their sick leave credits.
For government workers whose period of self-quarantine after recent travel whether official or personal was deducted against their leave credits prior to the issuance of the guidelines, they can request to have their leave credits restored.
To report back to work, a medical certificate should be submitted to the agency’s Human Resource (HR) unit, issued by either a government or private physician that the employee has undertaken the prescribed 14-day quarantine or if suspected/diagnosed with COVID-19, is issued with a clearance as being fit to go back to work.
If the government worker has exhausted the sick leave credits, Section 56 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave will apply to allow the use of vacation leave credits. In case that both vacation and sick leave credits have been consumed, the employee may apply for sick leave of absence without pay.
Agency heads are directed to ensure that the guidelines set under CSC M.C. No. 5, s. 2020 are enforced in the agency and all precautionary measures are observed to avert the occurrence of COVID-19 in public sector workplaces.
The guidelines issued by the CSC on COVID-19 related absences is applicable for the duration of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern until such medical condition has been lifted by the proper health authorities.