Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III expects the number of workers who will lose their jobs or be adversely affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to still increase.
“Every day the number of people losing work or get reduced working hours increases. It continues with the pandemic,” he said in a radio interview Thursday.
“It grows every day. That is our worry. That is our concern,” added Bello.
Data from the Labor department revealed that more than 3 million workers have lost their jobs or suffered because of the pandemic as of July 20.
DOLE said a total of 107,148 establishments covering 3,023,587 workers are implementing flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and temporary closure (TC).
The labor chief said this is the reason why the Department of Labor has been urging employers to avoid laying off workers.
“Don’t remove them. Just reduce their working hours or transfer them to another job,” Bello said.
“That is also the purpose of our Advisory No. 17,” he added.
Last May, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued guidelines on how best employers can protect jobs, and prevent layoffs and retrenchments amid the COVID-19 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 or general community quarantine.
“Employees on work-from-home or telecommuting arrangements 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 also be adopted: transfer of employee to another branch; assignment of employee to another function or position, in the same or another branch or outlet; reduction of normal work days or work hours; job rotations; partial closure of an establishment while some department or unit is continued; and 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 exists,” 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.