DOLE, DTI urged to aid firms to help them cope with pandemic

Sen. Joel Villanueva has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to give companies all necessary assistance to help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent them from laying off more employees.

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

"DoLE and DTI should not just be counting and reporting lost jobs and closures. Concrete measures to stop the hemorrhage should be implemented, aside from ensuring compliance with the rights and benefits of laid-off workers,” Villanueva said in a statement.

Citing projections of "massive" retrenchments in the coming months, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor underscored the need for more programs and policies that would help displaced workers, as well as those that would prevent retrenchments.

Villanueva said for instance the government could help factories be repurposed to produce the needs of the country amid the pandemic.

He urged the government to also campaign to buy Filipino products, and ensure safe and COVID-free workplaces to fully reopen the economy and prevent further retrenchment of workers and business closures.

He also appealed to the DTI and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to encourage, rather than hamper, entrepreneurship by simplifying the requirements for business registration, tax filing, and payments, among others.

Likewise, he also asked the employers to pay the correct separation benefits, and for the DoLE to ensure compliance with the Labor Code, which provides separation pay of one month pay or one-half month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher.

On the reported mandatory use of face shields in workplaces, Villanueva said the DoLE should first assess the compliance of employers with the existing COVID-19 prevention measures before considering to add new requirements.

Actual inspections must continue so that inspectors can see whether there is adequate ventilation in the workplace. Studies have shown that adequate ventilation helps minimize the spread of the virus, said the senator.