Don’t fire employees; go for flexible work hours – Dole
MANILA, Philippines — Rather than terminate their workers outright, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has urged employers to adopt flexible work arrangements to help keep their business afloat amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under Dole Advisory No. 9, employers were told that they can either ask their workers to go on forced leave, implement a rotation of workers, or reduce workhours/workdays. The three options were meant to help businesses ride out the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the economy, as well as ensure that workers keep their jobs.
“The adoption of flexible work arrangements is considered a better alternative [to the] outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishments,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
According to Assistant Labor Secretary Dominique Tutay, flexible work arrangements or the temporary suspension of operations have already been adopted by 55 businesses with more than 3,500 workers in Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Soccsksargen.
Tutay said regional reports have indicated that 35 more establishments will be adopting flexible work arrangements.
“That involves 3,255 workers,” the Labor official told reporters Wednesday.
“We also have around 20 establishments that suspended operations temporarily. Over 300 workers were involved,” she said, adding that these businesses were in the tourism sector.
Although the country still has no reported local transmission of the virus which originated in Wuhan City in China’s central Hubei province, the tourism sector has taken a direct hit due to travel bans in affected countries.
Last month, travel bans were issued against China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, initially, while a partial ban was imposed on South Korea. Most foreign tourists to the Philippines come from these countries.
The Department of Tourism earlier estimated that the COVID-19 outbreak would cost the local tourism industry some P43 billion from February to April. For February alone, the country was expected to lose over P16.8 billion in tourism receipts.
Bello said they were going to ask either Congress or the Office of the President for a P2-billion supplemental budget “to address the emergency situation [which may result] in job displacements.”
Bello meanwhile dismissed as “isolated cases” the retrenchment of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
“Some of their employers are not permanent residents of Hong Kong. They are leaving so they have to let go of their workers,” he said.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said it was now assisting 40 displaced workers in the special administrative region of China.
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