Social media weigh in on House bill granting workers ‘heartbreak leave’

February 16, 2024 - 3:06 PM
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Broken hearted
(Image By freepik; Image by benzoix on Freepik)

Would you avail a “heartbreak leave?”

A bill filed in the House of Representatives, which seeks to give workers a “heartbreak leave,” has earned various comments from Pinoys.

Rep. Lordan Suan (Cagayan de Oro, First District) on Thursday filed House Bill 9931 or the “Heartbreak Recovery and Resilience Act” to provide “support and resources” to workers whose romantic relationships have fallen apart.

He said that the bill seeks to promote their “personal well-being and continued contribution to the workforce” following an emotionally “distressing” experience.

It grants workers of public and private sectors unpaid leave entitlements for the following periods, based on their ages:

  • Workers under 25 years old — Maximum of one business day of unpaid heartbreak leave per calendar year.
  • Workers between 25 and 35 years old — Maximum of two business days of unpaid heartbreak leave per calendar year.
  • Workers age 36 years old and above — Maximum of three business days of unpaid heartbreak leave per calendar year.

To qualify for a heartbreak leave, workers must give their employer a signed statement confirming the dissolution of their romantic relationship within the past 30 days.

They must also provide their employees with written notice of their intention to take a heartbreak leave at least 48 hours in advance unless pressing or demanding circumstances prevent such notice.

Workers on such leave will continue to be eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance benefits if they meet the requirements.

The bill said that heartbreak leaves will not be carried over to the next calendar years.

It also states that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) “shall develop and disseminate evidence-based resources on navigating heartbreak and emotional well-being to government offices, employers and employees.”

The initiatives will be in collaboration with mental health professionals.

“The DOLE and the CSC shall create a program to support the development and implementation of confidential emotional support programs within workplaces,” the bill stated.

The initiative earned various comments from Pinoys, with some lauding the congressman for filing such a bill.

“Yes. For mental and emotional purpose,” a Facebook user commented.

“Parang gusto ko ‘to Atty. Cong. HAHAHAHAHAHAH,” another Pinoy wrote.

“If it is good for the rest of us, why not?” a different user commented.

Others, however, were more critical of the proposal.

“Walang kakwenta-kwentang panukala, sa dami ng problems [na] kinahaharap ng bansa, ‘yan pa [talaga] ang naiisip. Sayang pasahod sa congressman ng nakaisip [niyan],” a Pinoy wrote.

“Walang kuwenta, dapat bereavement leave,” another user commented.

“Sari-sari na ang naiisip ng mga ito eh, ‘yung transportation system ang ayusin [niyo],” wrote a different Pinoy.

Why it is needed

The bill, according to Suan’s explanatory note, is a “novel approach to workplace well-being.”

“This seemingly unconventional policy addresses a significant, yet often overlooked, factor impacting employee performance and engagement: the emotional turmoil associated with breakups,” he said.

Suan added that studies said breakups have a “substantial toll” on individuals, affecting their “emotional and mental well-being, leading to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs.”

“Recognizing this reality, the bill acknowledges the legitimacy of emotional distress stemming from personal life and offers crucial support during this challenging time,” the congressman said.

“Furthermore, this legislation moves beyond a one-size-fits-all approach by acknowledging the age-related nuances of heartbreak,” Suan continued.

He added that younger workers who are “facing societal pressure to quickly ‘bounce back,’ may benefit from shorter leave periods.”

Meanwhile, older individuals “navigating complex family dynamics or financial dependencies might require longer periods.”

“This differentiated approach ensures equitable access to leave while recognizing individual needs and circumstances,” Suan explained.

He further claimed that the proposal “fosters gender equality in the workplace,” adding that women disproportionately experience economic and emotional hardship following breakups, based on research.

“By offering equal access to leave, the Heartbreak Recovery and Resilience Act promotes equity and addresses potential disparities,” the solon said.

Suan also said that the heartbreak leaves allow workers to have “improved focus and performance upon return” once they have the time to emotionally process the event.

He added that the bill “aligns with modern values of flexibility and work-life balance.”

“By offering heartbreak leave and emotional support resources, this legislation presents a win-win scenario for both employees and employers, fostering engagement, reducing costs, and ultimately contributing to a more humane and productive work environment,” the CDO representative said.

Experts said that people can die from a broken heart.

READ: Romance isn’t always rosy, sometimes it’s sickening – lovesickness, erotomania and death by heartbreak explained

According to Nelson Chong, a senior lecturer in pharmacology at the Nottingham Trent University, atrial fibrillation or AF can happen to those whose partner has died, especially if they have been cohabiting. 

AF is a form of irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

“In a recent article published in the online journal Open Heart, a Danish research team based at Aarhus University reported findings showing that the death of a partner is linked to heightened risk of developing AF for up to a year after the bereavement,” Chong wrote in a 2016 article.

“The study revealed that individuals whose cohabiting partner or spouse had died had an increased risk of getting AF within 30 days of the bereavement — a risk estimated to be 41% higher than average,” he added.

Chong also discussed the origins of a “broken heart syndrome.”

“Scientific findings accumulated over the past 25 years seem to support the notion that a real-life broken heart can lead to subsequent heart problems. ‘Broken heart syndrome,’ also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, was first described in 1990 in Japan and has recently been globally recognized as a real medical condition,” he wrote.

“Takotsubo cardiomyopathy starts abruptly and unpredictably (even in healthy individuals). Symptoms include chest pains, often with shortness of breath, and an abnormal electrocardiogram, which resembles a heart attack but is notable for the absence of blocked heart blood vessels,” Chong added.

He said that Takotsubo cardiomyopathy “is usually triggered by an emotionally or physically stressful event such as bereavement, major surgery or being involved in a disaster such as an earthquake.”