Detained Senator Leila de Lima has urged the Senate to look into the reported rising number of regular employees in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies who are being placed on floating status amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Lima, in filing Senate Resolution NO. 462, stressed the need to review existing labor laws, policies, and practices in light of the current health crisis as legislative reforms may be necessary to make them more responsive to the needs of workers amid the economic downturn brought about by COVID-19.
The former justice secretary pointed out that the designation of floating status to employees is a labor practice where employers capitalize on legal loopholes in order to protect assets and capital investments.
This also clears them from any possible financial obligations they may have to their employees for extended periods of time, according to the senator.
“The fairness of existing labor laws and policies, such as the designation of floating status employees, should be re-examined, particularly during extraordinary times of crisis such as the one brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” De Lima said.
While designating employees to floating status is completely legal, she said problems arise when workers are left with no source of income for months at a time.
“Despite being regular employees, workers are left with no choice but to accept the status quo rather than face permanent retrenchment should they seek other employment opportunities elsewhere,” she said.
Last May, it was reported that regular employees of some BPOs who came into contact with a COVID-19 patient were placed on “floating status.” This prompted them to undergo a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine period without pay despite being regular employees.
During the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), some regular employees of BPO companies were also reportedly being put on “floating status” for up to 90 days as offshore accounts pulled out their Philippine operations due to the global economic downturn.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said it is only fair that both the government and BPO companies look after the welfare of BPO workers and support them during this pandemic.
“More equitable labor arrangements should be institutionalized in order to balance the equation and provide protection to not just capital investments but, more importantly, the labor power supplied by workers themselves which serve as the key foundation of our economy,” she said.