CSC sets alternative work arrangement rules during pandemic

Published May 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) promulgated on Thursday (May 7) Resolution No. 2000540, which sets alternative work arrangements (AWAs) for government employees during the persisting COVID-19 crisis.


The full title of the resolution reads, “Revised Interim Guidelines for Alternative Work Arrangements and Support Mechanisms for Workers in the Government During the Period of State of National Emergency Due to COVID-19 Pandemic.”

It suggests work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, skeleton workforce, four-day or compressed workweek, and staggered working hours as AWA types that agencies can adopt during the pandemic.

“These may be difficult times, but it is during these times that our citizens need our government to be effective and remain responsive to their needs. These interim guidelines would ensure that government agencies continue to fulfill their mandate amid the pandemic, while protecting the health and safety of their workers,” CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said in a statement.

The resolution, circularized via CSC Memorandum Circular No. 10, s. 2020, contains the complete set of guidelines for implementing these AWAs.

WFH refers to an output-oriented work arrangement that authorizes the worker to produce outputs or results and accomplishments outside of the office, the CSC said. This shall be adopted in areas placed by the President under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

For agencies in areas placed under general community quarantine (GCQ), where public transportation is limited and physical distancing in the workplace is required, WFH is an option.

“For areas placed under GCQ, employees aged below 21 and those who are 60 years old and above, as well as those with immunodeficiency, co-morbidities or other health risk, pregnant women, including those who reside with the aforementioned, shall be under WFH arrangement, except when their services are indispensable under the circumstances or when office work is permitted,” the statement read.

According to Resolution No. 2000540, a skeleton or skeletal workforce pertains to a work arrangement where a minimum number of employees is required to man the office to render service when full staffing is not possible. Agencies in GCQ areas shall adopt the skeletal workforce as one of its AWA.

In an ECQ, a skeletal workforce may be allowed unless a different operational capacity is deemed necessary in agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, border control, and other critical services as identified in the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine.

Employees designated to the skeletal workforce shall be entitled to hazard pay on top of the compensatory time off or overtime pay granted for authorized services rendered outside of the employee’s regular work hours, the CSC said.

Meanwhile, under a compressed work week arrangement, the employees need to report for work only four days each week. This may be adopted by agencies in areas placed under GCQ.

Agencies may also adopt staggered working hours, which is applicable to offices or agencies that observe work shifting or flexible working time. For this purpose, staggered working hours refers to the existing 24/7 shifting schedule and the flexible working time schedule.

This may be implemented as a means to limit the number of employees present at the workplace at any given time, the CSC said.

Monitoring a must

Agencies may use a combination of two or more of these AWAs, including any other type of work arrangement it has adopted. They shall formulate their internal rules and regulations to effectively implement the AWA they adopted.

“These guidelines must include the appropriate AWA for employees who travel to and from areas placed under different quarantine levels, e.g., from ECQ area to GCQ area and vice-versa or from quarantine-free area to ECQ or GCQ area,” the CSC statement read.

“To ensure that public service delivery is not prejudiced during the implementation of AWA, a monitoring mechanism, such as submission of daily or weekly accomplishment reports, must be implemented,” it added.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the CSC requires agencies to implement precautionary measures prior to resumption of normal operations, such as disinfection and decontamination activities, conduct of health status check among employees, and modification of workplace layout to ensure observance of physical distancing.

Agencies are also mandated to enforce health standard protocol at all times such as wearing of face masks, taking of body temperature, and setting up of sanitation stations.

Moreover, support mechanisms, such as health/psychosocial interventions, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, and reasonable transportation facilities and housing quarters, should be made available to government workers.

“These revised interim guidelines shall take effect retroactively on 16 March 2020 and shall remain in force until the state of national emergency has been lifted by the President of the Philippines,” the CSC said.