DOLE issues guidelines for employers

Silvestre Bello III
Labor Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III.

THE Department of Labor and Employment is pushing for the preservation of employment by businesses and enterprises as the country slowly transitions into the new normal amid the global health pandemic.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III today issued guidelines on how best employers can protect jobs, and prevent layoffs and retrenchments.

“We know that businesses have suffered so much, but for the sake of our economy we encourage them to dig deeper into their vast reserve of charity and benevolence so that their workers and the communities can continue to further weather this crisis that we are all facing and fighting together,” he said.

In a separate advisory, meanwhile, DOLE also said the cost of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces as provided for in its joint guidelines with the Department of Trade and Industry should be shouldered by employers. 

Labor Advisory No. 17 “highly encourages” work-from-home and telecommuting for employees in businesses and industries already allowed to resume operations under the modified enhanced community quarantine or general community quarantine.

It also spells out a menu of alternative work arrangements that employers may resort to in order to forestall further business reverses, while at the same time protecting jobs, preventing closures and termination of workers.

Alternative work schemes include:

1. Transfer of employee to another branch;

2. Assignment of employee to another function or position, in the same or another branch or outlet;

3. Reduction of normal workdays or work hours;

4. Job rotations;

5. Partial closure of an establishment while some department or unit is continued; and

6. Other schemes necessary or peculiar for the survival of a specific business or establishment.

Likewise, the guidelines strongly advise employers to employ various wage and benefits schemes necessary for the continuance of business and employment in coordination with their workers and in conjunction with agreed company policies and their respective collective bargaining agreements; provided that the said adjustments in wage and benefits should not exceed six months, or the period mandated in their CBAs.

In instances when termination of employment becomes unavoidable, the advisory said emoluments for workers removed for cause should follow the provisions of existing laws.

The guidelines also required employers to submit reports to the DOLE field offices on the adaption of any, or all, of the provisions of the advisory.