Work from home scheme proposed amid COVID-19 outbreak
MANILA, Philippines — Businesses and offices should strongly consider permitting their employees to work from home following the declaration of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as a public health emergency, a House leader said on Sunday.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. urged employers to make stay-at-home arrangements for their workers to reduce their risk of getting infected after the Philippines reported its first local transmission of the pneumonia-causing sickness over the weekend.
“With the President declaring a state of public health emergency and the Department of Health raising its COVID-19 alert level to code red, employers could do their part in helping break the chain of local transmission by adopting, if and when possible, telecommuting for their workers,” he said.
To contain virus
The Camarines Sur lawmaker said the government should now focus on the swift deployment of resources to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Villafuerte said Employers Confederation of the Philippines and other groups should adopt telecommuting whenever possible, noting that the Department of Labor and Employment was also encouraging work-from-home arrangements to reduce the chances of infection among workers.
Republic Act No. 11165 provides for “fair treatment” for telecommuting employees, who are supposed to be given the same benefits as employees working in the office, including pay rates, rest periods, holidays, among others.
In a separate statement, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo urged Congress to exempt masks, sanitizers and similar goods from import duties and local taxes to “assure adequate supply, stabilize prices and avoid hoarding at this time of crisis.”
Bohol Rep. Alexie Tutor, for her part, said the government should mount an aggressive campaign to stress the importance of personal hygiene in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“We must learn the simple but crucial lessons of frequent handwashing, including washing hands with soap at restrooms and handwashing before eating,”said Tutor, a vice chair of the House health committee.
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