By Leslia Ann Aquino
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Monday issued guidelines on how best businesses avoid closure and employers protect jobs, thus preventing layoffs and retrenchments amid the COVID-19 health pandemic.
In Labor Advisory No. 17, the Labor department “highly encouraged” work-from-home and telecommuting for employees in businesses and industries already allowed to resume operations under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) or general community quarantine (GCQ).
“Employees on work-from-home or telecommuting arrangement shall be provided with adequate support to perform the assigned task or job,” read the advisory.
As an alternative to termination of employment or closure of business, the DOLE said any or a combination of the following work schemes may be adopted:
1.transfer of employee to another branch;
2. assignment of employee to another function or position, in the same or another branch or outlet;
3. reduction of normal workdays or work hours;
4. job rotations;
5. partial closure of an establishment while some department or unit is continued; and
6. other schemes necessary or peculiar for the survival of a specific business or establishment
“The above alternative work schemes/flexible work arrangements are temporary in nature and shall be adopted for as long as the public health crisis exist,” the advisory read.
The guidelines strongly advised employers to employ various wage and benefits schemes necessary for the continuance of business and employment in coordination with their workers and in conjunction with agreed company policies and their respective collective bargaining agreements (CBAs); provided that the said adjustments in wage and benefits should not exceed six months, or the period mandated in their CBAs.
“We know that businesses have suffered so much, but for the sake of our economy we encourage them to dig deeper into their vast reserve of charity and benevolence so that their workers and the communities can continue to further weather this crisis that we are all facing and fighting together,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.
In instances when termination of employment becomes unavoidable, the advisory said emoluments for workers removed for cause should follow the provisions of existing laws.
The guidelines also required employers to submit reports to the DOLE field offices on the adaption of any, or all, of the provisions of the advisory.
Meanwhile, in Labor Advisory No. 18, DOLE said that the prevention and control of the COVID-19 virus in a specific work place, business, or industry should be shouldered by employers.
The DOLE said employers, contractors, and subcontractors, or their principals, should shoulder expenses in the conduct of the following prevention and control measures: testing of employees; disinfection of facilities;provision of hand sanitizers; procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), such as face masks; putting up of signages; the orientation and training of workers including the provision of IEC materials on COVID-19 prevention and control; and other measures necessary to fight and protect their workers and employees.
Don’t forget your IDs
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reminded returning workers to bring with them their company identification cards (IDs) and basic documents to avoid delay at checkpoints as Metro Manila transitioned to the MECQ.
Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, MMDA spokesperson, said returning workers should not forget to bring their necessary documents so they have proof that they are allowed to get back to works.
Pialago bared that there are more vehicles on the road since Saturday after the metropolis transitioned to MECQ.
With this, she said, the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) added more checkpoints and ground personnel to check on motorists.
“Many motorists were asked to go back or go out of their vehicles when they were unable to show IDs and basic documents. These are the usual problems that we observed,” Pialago said. (With a report from Jel Santos)