MANILA, Philippines – Exactly 69,022 employees from more than 2,000 establishments across the country have gone jobless amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
This, according to the record of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as of Tuesday (June 9).
Specifically, 193 of these establishments have declared permanent closure while 1,875 others have reduced their workforce.
DOLE is waiting for the filing of formal notice of closure from the said establishments for the final process.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III noted that it is the obligation of employers to give the separation or retrenchment pay for every affected employee.
“Statutory right iyan ng employee kapag tinanggal mo siya. Kung walang legal basis, magsasara ka lang then they have to pay for separation pay [This is a statutory right of the employee when he is dismissed from work. If there is no legal basis for the closure then they have to pay for separation pay],” Bello said.
The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), however, expressed concern about how these establishments can give their employees’ separation pay when they, too, are severely affected by the implementation of community quarantine measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Noong araw mahirap magsara ng kumpanya dahil ang daming babayaran. Pero ngayon ready-made reason sa kanila yung lockdown na nalugi sila. Hindi mo mapipilit na magbayad ng separation pay dahil Walang ibabayad [In the past, it’s not easy to close a company because of a number of obligations to settle. But now, the lockdowns had become a ready-made reason for them because of income loss. You cannot force them to give separation pay because they have nothing to give],” explained ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.
Meanwhile, DOLE has recorded around 1.9 million workers affected by the temporary closure of companies, while more than 960,000 are back in their jobs under flexible work arrangements.
The Labor Department is now planning to subsidize 25% to 50% of the payroll cost of employers with the condition that they would not resort to retrenchment. –MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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