De Lima seeks Senate probe into cases of ‘floating’ BPO employees
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima is pushing for a Senate investigation into reported cases of regular employees in business process outsourcing (BPO) companies who are being placed on “floating status” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
De Lima sought for the inquiry through Senate Resolution No. 462, where she underscored the need to review existing labor laws, policies and practices “to make them more responsive to the needs of workers amid the economic downturn brought about by the global health crisis.”
“The designation of floating status to employees is a labor practice where employers capitalize on legal loopholes in order to protect assets and capital investments and clear them from any financial obligations they may have to their employees for extended periods of time,” her resolution read.
“The fairness of existing labor laws and policies, such as the designation of floating status employees, should be re-examined, particularly during extraordinary times of crisis such as the one brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.
According to De Lima’s resolution, regular employees of some BPO companies who came into contact with a COVID-19 patient were reportedly being placed on “floating status,” prompting them to undergo a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine period “all without pay despite being regular employees.”
Some regular employees of BPO companies were also reportedly being put on “floating status” for up to 90 days “as offshore accounts pulled out their Philippine operations due to the global economic downturn,” she added.
While the senator acknowledged that designating employees to floating status is “completely legal,” De Lima said “problems arise when workers are left with no source of income for months at a time.”
“Despite being regular employees, workers are left with no choice but to accept the status quo rather than face permanent retrenchment should they seek other employment opportunities elsewhere,” she added.
De Lima, chair of the Senate social justice committee, stressed that both the government and BPO companies should look after the welfare of BPO workers and support them during the pandemic.
“More equitable labor arrangements should be institutionalized in order to balance the equation and provide protection to not just capital investments but, more importantly, the labor power supplied by workers themselves which serve as the key foundation of our economy,” the lawmaker further said.
Earlier, Senator Imee Marcos also filed a resolution seeking to investigate the alleged exploitation of Filipino employees by BPO companies.
Marcos filed the resolution after “a great number” of call center workers complained that their companies are “withholding compensation, especially of Filipino employees, or making them shoulder operational costs so that further losses in corporate income can be reduced.”
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