Employers told to provide psychosocial support to workers

Employers shall provide their employees with psychosocial support, especially those presenting mental health concerns. 

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said this in their Joint Memorandum Circular with the Department of Trade and Industry or the Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 that was released last week.

If such is not available, the Labor department said a referral system to mental health specialists must be in place, either through establishing a network with an accredited health facility, through telemedicine services, or through the National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 0917-899-8727 (0917-899-USAP) and 0279898727 (02)-7-989-USAP).

The DOLE said employers shall likewise promote work-life balance, especially in these trying times through proper scheduling of activities and workforce rotation. 

It added that company policies on prevention and control of COVID-19 should also be aligned with the existing minimum public health standards and guidelines issued by the Department of Health and other regulatory agencies.

According to the JMC, the supplemental guidelines were issued to further ensure the safety and health of employees in the private sector.

Based on the guidelines, sick leave benefits, medical insurance coverage, including supplemental pay allowance, for COVID 19 RT-PCR test-confirmed employees or close contacts made to undergo a 14-day quarantine must also be provided to workers.

To properly manage asymptomatic and symptomatic cases, the DOLE-DTI guideline requires employers to ensure that the employees, regardless of work arrangements, have access to telemedicine services.

It said large and medium private establishments are highly encouraged to provide their telemedicine services, in the absence of an health maintenance organization (HMO).

The DOLE and DTI also mandate the wearing of face mask and face shield, providing disinfection materials and supplies in strategic areas in workplaces, including company shuttle services among others.

The joint memorandum, which took effect August 15, covers all establishments, projects, sites, including establishments located inside special economic zones and other investment promotion agencies, and all other places where work is being undertaken in all branches of economic activity, except in the public sector.