CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-X Regional Director Lawyer Joffrey M. Suyao highlights DOLE Labor Advisory No. 17 advocating employment preservation during the fourth Management Committee meeting at DOLE-X Regional Office.
The advisory is part of the recovery support program of the department under post COVID-19 pandemic aimed to support the revamp of economies in the region. This supports the increased categories and increased number of businesses now allowed to open/operate business subject to the Inter-Agency Task Force-Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and concerned local government units’ rules and regulations upon the declaration of Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) for Cagayan de Oro City and concerned provinces in the region.
To recall, Presidential Proclamation No. 922, Series of 2020 was issued which declared a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the country in view of COVID-19 pandemic. Operating under the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” through one government approach, the DOLE upholds to protect the interests of workers in the private sector, supports the continued business operations by ensuring health, safety and welfare of workers, employers and the general public in Northern Mindanao under MGCQ starting July 1, 2020.
The DTI-DOLE Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 tangibly monitors opened businesses through workplace visits to assess/monitor/validate minimum compliance to basic health and safety requirements.
As a support to bolster economies and businesses, Suyao further clarifies that Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020 promotes employment preservation regardless of employment status of workers in the private sector operating or allowed to resume business operations under community quarantine arrangements.
Work schemes for businesses
The labor advisory promotes flexible work arrangements or alternative work schemes that employers and workers may avail instead of resorting to permanent termination of workers from work or cessation of business operations. Schemes may include but are not limited to reduction of work hours, rotation of workers, temporary closures or other schemes which shall adhere to basic Labor Standards policies.
Under any of the schemes, employers and employees may agree voluntarily and express in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits following the existing labor standards rules and regulations; period of which shall not exceed six months’ period; and subject to review by the signing parties for any possible improvements.
As a support to businesses allowed to operate, the Joint Interim Memorandum with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Tourism (DOT) authorizes the conduct of monitoring visits to establishments by the DTI, DOT, DOLE and the LGU prioritizing respective industry sectors of said entities/agencies.
The post COVID-19 activity aims to monitor/validate compliance to IATF-EID health and safety protocols through actual workplace assessment/validation. From June 26 to July 20, joint visits conducted by the monitoring team were recorded at 3,421 business establishments region-wide.
Compliance to health protocols
Ensuring compliance to IATF’s safety and health protocols in workplaces in the private sector means apt support to bolster economies; ensure workers’ health and safety; and increase public trust on business operations that will deliberately revive economies. There are 644 of 3,421 monitored establishments that were reported as non-compliant to basic health and safety standards.
Non-compliant to basic health and safety protocols were subjected to technical assistance by the department for the installation of simple, highly doable and practical mechanisms such as putting up of signages at the entrance of the business enterprise, installation of signages inside the workplace, installation of transparent barriers, walkway signages through floor markings and compliance to daily health questionnaires intended to determine exposures, contact-tracing and others.
In line with the monitoring of establishments, Suyao said DOLE also monitors termination of workers and company closures. As of July 20, 2020 Termination Reports received by the office were recorded at 35 establishments opted to stop operations due to ill-effects of the pandemic, involving 663 involuntarily terminated workers.
Majority or 23 of these establishments are from Cagayan de Oro, where the seat of the economic hub of the region resides. The Termination Report is part of the monitoring schemes done by the department not only in Northern Mindanao but on a nationwide scale. Facts and data gathered are hoped to guide the department for policy shifts and issuances, which is also the basis of designing appropriate programs for workers and employers, with regard to the terms and conditions of employment, Suyao stressed.
As of July 20, in terms of industry sector, construction accounts the biggest retrenchment/reduction of workers at 24 percent or 606 workers from 39 establishments; followed by wholesale/retail at 21 percent or 523 workers of 34 establishments; and manufacturing sector affecting 18 establishments involving 227 workers.
Moreover, the accommodation industry has the highest number of displaced workers from 9 establishments affecting 189 workers while 181 establishments reported retrenchment/reduction of workers covering 2,516 displaced workers.
Online report system
For more effective and efficient monitoring on employment status of workers, including temporary closures of businesses or cessation of operations, the DOLE institutionalized the use of DOLE Online Establishment Report System, thru https://reports.dole.gov.ph. This was made public, July 8, where employers are encouraged to submit their reports online on (1) Flexible Work Arrangement/Alternative Work Scheme; (2) Temporary Closure; (3) Retrenchment or Reduction of Workforce; or (4) Permanent Closure. Once filed online, submission of hard copies of the said Establishment Reports to the DOLE Regional/Provincial Field Offices are no longer required.
Moving towards post COVID-19 pandemic, DOLE continues to facilitate the provision of technical assistance as an apt support to employers and workers in multifarious work settings in complying with the basic health and safety guidelines. DOLE ensures to facilitate and extend technical assistance towards improved economic activities hoping to enhance and revitalize businesses encouraging full participation and involvement of workers and employers under the new normal work settings. (DOLE10/PIA10)