DOLE assures aid for OFWs fired from jobs due to coronavirus outbreak

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday assured that overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who might get terminated from work or would want to return home due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak would get assistance from the government.

In a press briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said returning overseas workers will each receive P20,000 financial assistance and P20,000 livelihood assistance packages. Their children will also receive scholarships from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac earlier reported that 40 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong were displaced by the virus outbreak, 35 of which were initiated by the employers, while 16 were due to the employers’ relocation.

The rest were of the terminations were due to issues regarding taking rest days.

Bello said they are now coordinating with the Department of Budget and Management for the P2-billion budget they are seeking to fund financial and livelihood assistance packages for returning OFWs.

He added that a crisis committee has been created to address further employment issues that may arise due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Measures, including the proposed adoption among local employers of flexible work arrangements for workers, have also been prepared to mitigate the effects of possible surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Flexible work arrangements, which are temporary in nature, refer to alternative arrangements or schedules other than the traditional or standard work hours, workdays, and workweek.

DOLE said the adoption of flexible work arrangements is a better alternative than the outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishment.

The department also said it has tasked all its labor officials, both in the regional offices and those 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 countermeasures.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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