WITH the Department of Health confirming the first local transmission of COVID-19 in the country, the Department of Labor and Employment announced a package of measures that would mitigate any threat the disease might pose to the country’s labor market.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello IIII said the labor department is preparing a wide-ranging set of actions that would prepare the labor sector for the creeping impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on global trade and its perceived impact on domestic economies.
Bello said that he has tasked all labor officials, both in the regional offices and in Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), to be on alert-footing to allow a quick reporting system on worker displacements and pave the way for counter measures.
He said the measures will include urging industry leaders to adopt “flexitime” work arrangements for workers in industries that could be affected by an outbreak.
The labor chief also said that DOLE is preparing to reposition some of the department’s financial programs to sectors that might be affected by an outbreak of COVID-19. He said assistance packages like the Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD), and Government Internship Program (GIP) will be repositioned to help workers in industries that could be affected by the epidemic.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Ana Dione said that flexible work arrangements are a better alternative than the outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishment.
“The labor department calls on employers to adopt flexible work arrangements as an alternative measure to save jobs. Instead of totally closing their businesses, we encourage them to adopt schemes such as reduced work days, rotation and adjusted working hours,” she said.
OIC-Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay added that 35 tourism-related establishments involving 3,255 workers have already resorted to flexible work arrangements. The establishments are located in Western Visayas, Central Visayas and SOCCSKSARGEN regions.