Don’t lay off workers during COVID-19 crisis, DOLE tells private companies
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has called on private companies and other big enterprises “to take the extra mile” in assisting their workers during the crisis situation, instead of resorting to retrenchment amid the work stoppages, suspension of public transportation and restricted movement of people in the communities.
Bello said this as he lauded several big conglomerates who have agreed to give their employees and workers their full salaries and advanced payment of their 13th/14th month pay amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
“I implore business owners to earnestly find other measures to preserve employment of workers so as not to compound their already dire condition. Most of our workers want to work but they are constrained. Doing so will be to defy lawful orders made in the national interest,” he said in a statement.
Bello noted that the department has already provided guidelines for the implementation of flexible work arrangements including the work from home (WFH) scheme.
“As of this time, the WFH is the safest manner to keep our workers employed. It is also the most compliant with the policies under an enhanced quarantine situation,” he said.
However, the WFH is not applicable to other workers particularly those in the manufacturing industry, he noted. This is where initiatives from employers become important and necessary, Bello said.
“For enterprises allowed to continue operations and whose skeletal workforce is needed at the workplace, a temporary housing provision can be considered. This way, workers no longer have to go home without available public transportation or be at risk of being stopped at checkpoints,” he claimed.
The labor chief also encouraged employers to release the 13/14th month pay of employees while work is suspended so that they can have the means to buy basic necessities.
“The advance payment is a practical response to help our wage earners survive the month-long quarantine. We’ll find other ways if the quarantine is extended,” he said.
According to Bello, the following companies would continue to provide their employees full payment of their salary for the duration of the month-long quarantine without using up their available leaves, advance payment of 13th or 14th month pay, and other financial relief:
Aboitiz Group of Companies
Asian Terminal/Solaire Resort Hotel
Ayala Group of Companies
JG Summit/Gokongwei Group of Companies
Jollibee Group of Companies
Lucio Tan Group of Companies
Manuel V. Pangilinan Group of Companies
SMC Group of Companies
SM Group of Companies
“We are grateful to the big businesses who heeded the appeal of the President to take care of their workers and employees during this time of national emergency… Their compassion and good example inspire other enterprises whose source of wealth is the labor of their workforce,” he said.
“We in government will continue to work doubly hard to ensure the welfare of our most valuable resource, our people, specially in these trying times,” he further said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine as COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.
The Philippines is also under a state of calamity amid the outbreak.
There are so far 202 positive COVID-19 patients in the country, of which 17 patients have died while seven have recovered.
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