CSC issues guidelines on COVID-19-related absence

csc-guidelines-on-covid-19-related-absences

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) said on Tuesday, November 16, that absences from work by government officials and employees incurred during the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be deemed as “excused absences.”

According to the interim guidelines recently released by the Commission, aside from excused absence, such nature may also be credited as vacation or sick leave.

“CSC Resolution No. 2000953 or the Interim Guidelines on Absences of Government Officials and Employees During the Community Quarantine Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, promulgated on November 9 2020 and circularized through CSC Memorandum Circular No. 23, s. 2020 dated November 16 2020, recognizes that many government officials and employees were unable to report for work during the period of imposition of community quarantine due to the suspension of public transportation, lockdown conditions, and lack of agency support mechanisms,” CSC said in a statement.

CSC Chairperson Alicia dela-Rosa Bala explained that those who were stranded abroad or locally due to the suspension of all forms of transportation while on official travel or approved personal travel under their vacation or sick leave “shall be considered as excused absences.”

With this, the Commission is aiming to give “a more considerate treatment of the absences incurred by officials and employees due to circumstances beyond their control.”

However, those on personal travel should present a proof of intention to report back to work such as plane, bus or boat tickets and cancellation of their travel due to lockdown or localized declaration of enhanced, modified enhanced, and general community quarantines.

Excused absences cover only the period they are scheduled to report back to work and for the duration of the ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ.

Health risks, lockdown imposition

CSC said those who are unable to report for work because of health risks but not qualified for work-from-home arrangement; unable to work due to imposition of lockdowns; unable to work due to the suspension of public transportation and shuttle service was not provided; and those whose tasks may not be performed through a work-from-home scheme are considered excused absences.

In cases that leave credits have already been deducted, the CSC circular states that these shall be restored.

Meanwhile, failure to report for work after the approved personal leave of absence of those who could not present any proof, failure to report for work after undergoing required quarantine, failure to physically report for work of those assigned as skeleton force despite support mechanisms like transportation or housing quarters, shall be charged against earned vacation or sick leave credits.

“Failure to make themselves available during the work hours, without justifiable reason, while they are at home in cases where no assignment is given, e.g. non-response to calls or messages,” are likewise charged as vacation or sick leave, according to the memorandum.

Government officials and employees who have been absent without approved leave (AWOL) prior to March 16 when the lockdown was announced until the declaration of the community quarantine are still considered AWOL for the whole period that they did not signify any intention to report back to work.

Those stranded abroad with approved leave but without travel authority shall be deemed absent.

The absences shall be charged against earned leaves.

Bala said the guideline is retroactive to March 16, 2020, and until the state of public health emergency has been lifted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

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