DOLE calls on employers to adopt flexible work setup amid coronavirus threat

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday urged employers and industry leaders to adopt flexible arrangements for workers amid the creeping impact of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on global trade and domestic economies.

DOLE said it has issued an advisory which states the guidelines on the implementation of flexible work arrangement as remedial measure against the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.   

The department advisory includes measures that would prepare the labor sector and help mitigate any potential threat the disease might have on the country’s labor market.

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 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,” it said in a statement.

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.

According to DOLE, it is one of the coping mechanisms and remedial measures in times of economic difficulties and national emergencies. It is also recognized as beneficial in terms of reducing business costs and saving jobs while maintaining competitiveness and productivity in industries.

The department noted that around 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.

Prior to the implementation of flexible work arrangements, employers shall notify the labor department through its regional office which has jurisdiction over the workplace. 

DOLE also revealed it is preparing to reposition some of the its financial programs to sectors that might be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

This will include assistance packages like the adjustment measures program, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program, and Government Internship Program.

DOLE has tasked all 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.”

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