By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
As more workers are allowed to return to work with the relaxation of quarantine protocols, President Duterte reminded employers to make sure to provide ideal working conditions for their workers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Yung mga employer, you must provide a — ideal working conditions. For example, well-ventilated may hangin pumapasok lumalabas na presko at ‘yung i-disinfect ninyo (Employers must provide ideal working conditions. For example, it has to be well-ventilated and always disinfected),” he said in his late-night public address Tuesday.
In the same task force meeting, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government urged companies to provide shuttle services to their employees or temporary accommodation as public transportation remain suspended under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“So it is a service that should be given by the company,” he said.
For small and medium enterprises, Lopez said the company can make alternative working arrangements with its employees like allowing them to work from home since these employers may not be able to provide them a shuttle or temporary living quarters.
Several manufacturing businesses were allowed to partially operate under the MECQ. However, since transportation is still suspended, Malacañang said it cannot be taken against the employee if they will not be able to go to work if the company cannot provide a shuttle service for them.
Testing not required
Meanwhile, President Duterte reiterated it was not a requirement for returning workers to undergo COVID-19 testing, saying observing minimum health protocols like wearing face masks and physical distancing were enough.
“It is not a mandatory requirement — iyong talagang must kundi kung ginusto lang ng empleyado mo — ah ‘yung employer mo rather (It is not a mandatory requirement unless your employer wants it),” he said.
“Pero kung ginusto nila, ‘di sige (If they require it, then go ahead). If you are found to be positive, then you go to the motions of getting the proper treatment,” he added.
“Ulitin ko ‘yung (Let me remind you of) social distancing, the wearing of the mask, the regular of — washing of the hands, at ‘yung mga (and the) proper cough etiquette,” he continued.
According to Lopez, the departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Health (DOH) already issued the guidelines that should be followed by companies as they accept back their workers.
“Among other things ‘yung mga (are) social distancing, wearing of face masks, sanitation, so nakalagay po ‘yon doon (It’s there). Ang isang requirement po na sinabi natin ‘yung at least ‘yung thermal scanning para malaman kung may lagnat or may sakit ang bawat employee kukunin ‘yan everyday (Another requirement, at least, is to undergo thermal scanning daily to see if any of the employees are sick),” he said.
Another requirement was to have employees sign a health declaration form in relation to COVID-19. Those considered suspect cases will be required to undergo PCR test which is covered by PhilHealth.