Can workers be forced to report for duty amid Delta variant threat? DOLE chief answers

Published July 19, 2021, 3:39 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said it’s up to employers to decide whether or not they would let their employees work from home amid the threat of the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

(Photo by Fusion Medical Animation/ Unsplash)

In a virtual press briefing Monday, July 19, Bello was asked if he thinks an employer can compel a worker to report for duty at the workplace even if his or her tasks can be accomplished remotely, specifically at home.

The context of the question was the recent detection of local cases of the dreaded Delta variant by the Department of Health (DOH).

“This work from home arrangement is an arrangement between the employer and employee. So kung sa tingin ng employer ay hindi na kailangan ng work from home, hindi na pwede ‘yung special work arrangement na ‘yan. Kailangang mag-report na ‘yung ating mga workers (If the employer thinks that working from home is no longer needed, then that special work arrangement will no longer be followed. The workers must now report for duty),” Bello said.

The easing of quarantine restrictions these past few weeks have reportedly put an end to telecommuting among some Filipino workers.

However, Bello clarified that working from home remains an available option as per the order of DOLE.

“Sa ngayon, mayroong ganyang arrangement (Right now, we have that arrangement), it was initiated through an advisory from DOLE…nandyan pa rin ‘yung special work arrangement na ‘yan (that special work arrangement remains).” Telecommuting or working from home, also referred to as WFH, first became a thing last year upon the emergence of the first virus of COVID-19, which is a deadly respiratory disease.