ADOPTION OF FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS IN LIGHT OF COVID-19, AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES
On March 8, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 922, declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19, and imploring local government units to implement urgent and critical measures to curb the spread of the virus.
In response, almost all local government units within the country have put in place drastic lockdown and/or quarantine measures to minimize social contact among individuals. As a result, several companies and establishments have opted to temporarily close down, leaving several employees without any means of income.
To minimize business costs and help save jobs at the same time, the Department of Labor and Employment (“DOLE”) recommends the adoption of flexible work arrangements as coping mechanisms and remedial measures during this health crisis, instead of outright termination of employee services or the total closure of establishments.
Flexible Work Arrangements
According to Labor Advisory No. 09, Series of 2020, otherwise known as the Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements as Remedial Measure due to the Ongoing Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019, flexible work arrangements refer to alternative arrangements or schedules other than the traditional or standard work hours, workdays, and work week.
Under the Advisory, the following flexible work arrangements may be considered, among others:
1. Reduction of workhours and/or workdays, which refers to one where the normal workhours or workdays per week are reduced.
2. Rotation of Workers, which refers to one where the employees are rotated or alternately provided work within the week.
3. Forced Leave, which refers to one where the employees are required to go on leave for several days or weeks utilizing their leave credits, if there are any.
Other than these schemes, the employers and employees are also encouraged to explore other alternative work arrangements in order to mitigate the loss of income of the employees.
Posting and Notice
Establishments implementing flexible work arrangements shall post a copy of Labor Advisory No. 09 in a conspicuous location in the workplace. The employer shall then notify the DOLE which has jurisdiction over the workplace of the adoption of any of the above arrangements. The said notice submitted to DOLE must be accompanied with the Revised Establishment Report Form to be filled out by the employer. A copy of the Revised Establishment Form is attached below for reference.
Leave of Absences During Period of Community Quarantine
As earlier stated, employees may be forced to take leaves during the implementation of flexible work arrangements, or as a necessary consequence of lockdown and/or quarantine directives imposed by their respective local government units. In this case, Labor Advisory No. 11, Series of 2020, otherwise known as the Supplemental Guidelines Relative to Remedial Measures in view of the Ongoing Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), provides that leave of absences during the community quarantine period shall be charged against the workers’ existing leave credits, if any.
However, to cushion the impact on employee salaries, remaining unpaid leaves during the said period may be subject to financial support from DOLE as provided in Department Order No. 209, also known as, the Guidelines on the Adjustment Measures Program for Affected Workers Due to The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CAMP).
Guidelines on the Adjustment Measures Program for Affected Workers due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CAMP)
i. Period and Coverage
The COVID-19 Adjustment Program (CAMP) shall cover workers in private establishments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic from its onset, on January 2020 until April 14, 2020. Program coverage is nationwide.
ii. Financial Support for Affected Workers in Private Establishments
Under the said Department Order, workers who are affected by the implementation of flexible work arrangements by their respective employers, resulting in reduction of workhours/workdays, rotation of workers, forced leaves, or suspension due to suspension of business operations, are entitled to a one time, lump-sum, non-conditional financial assistance equivalent to PHP 5,000. This is regardless of employment status (i.e. permanent, probationary, or contractual).
iii. Requirements for Availment
Affected establishments must submit the following:
(a) Establishment Report Form on COVID-19 pursuant to Labor Advisory No. 9, Series of 2020; and
(b) Company Payroll for the month prior to the implementation of the flexible work arrangement or temporary closure.
iv. Application Submission
Applications with complete documentary requirements shall be submitted online to the appropriate DOLE Regional Office or any of its Provincial/Field Offices. Applications shall then be evaluated by the concerned DOLE Regional Office within three working days through electronic mail. Please refer to the directory below for the online submission of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) documentary requirements for guidance.
If approved, the concerned DOLE Regional Office shall issue the financial support directly to the beneficiary’s payroll account through bank transfer, within two (2) weeks upon receipt.
vi. Other Options
Aside from financial support, the concerned DOLE Regional/Field/Satellite Office shall refer workers to the nearest Public Employment Service Offices (PESO) for the provision of a full cycle employment facilitation. Beneficiaries who intend to find subsequent local and overseas wage employment shall be referred to appropriate employers with job vacancies matching their qualifications. Simultaneously, beneficiaries shall be provided employment coaching and relevant labor market information.
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