May 1 is Philippines Labor Day. We pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our remarkable workers here and around the world. While we celebrate this day, let’s take a look at the situation of the Filipino employees during this Covid-19 pandemic and how the government responded to it.

As the pandemic continued in existence, many companies stayed non-operational as a result of the restrictions imposed by the government. It leaves millions of workers either unemployed or struggling to find an online job. The constraints brought about by the Covid-19 adversity culminated in a paradigm shift in the working conditions throughout the Philippines; work from home arrangement is now the primary option for employees seeking to keep on working through this time of crisis.

Despite these circumstances, the government has managed some of the arising problems that affected the labor sector. Here are some of the measures done by the government to support the workers in these trying times.

Republic Act 11165 or Telecommuting Act

At the emergence of Covid-19 in China in December 2019, the Philippine government passed the RA 11165 or Telecommuting Act, also known as Work From Home Law. It’s an act institutionalizing telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector. Under this law, employers would give online workers the same privileges, security, and benefits as those who work in a traditional office. 

Community lockdown and movement restrictions extend as our battle with Covid-19 progresses. Establishing this kind of workplace agreement would aid the government in fighting the pandemic, preventing the social interactions between one person and another, potentially lessening the rate of the virus transmission.

This legislation would also favor both employees and employers. Employers can retain the number of workforces needed to manage the operation of the company. On the other hand, employees would get to work from home, still holding their current position and receiving the appropriate benefits as people who work in a regular workplace, reducing the risk of being contracted with the CoronaVirus. This kind of law empowers online job workers, allowing them to continue maintaining a family while working from the comfort of their own homes.

Labor Advisory No 09-20 – Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a Labor Advisory that laid out Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements as Remedial Measures due to the Ongoing Outbreak of Covid-19. Under this advisory, the employer may adopt various work arrangements for its employees while observing the ECQ, including Work From Home, Work Rotation, or availing of force leave utilizing existing leave credits, if any.

Adopting flexible working arrangements is preferable rather than the outright termination of employees’ services or the complete closure of the establishment or business. That would guarantee the health and welfare of traveling workers while also ensuring the continuity of business activities, which would benefit both the employer and the employees.

Department Order No. 209 – Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP)

DOLE promulgated a department order that provides procedures on the Adjustment Measures Program for the Affected Workers due to CoronaVirus. Under this order, the government will grant financial assistance to all affected workers who will not receive their regular wage, consequential to the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) lockdown and the implementation of flexible work arrangements. Affected employees also included those whose leave credits will not cover the ECQ period and those in the informal sector.

Through this order, all distressed workers, regardless of employment status, are entitled to receive a one-time Php5,000.00 financial subsidy from the government. This amount would considerably ease the concerned employees with their adjustment to new employment disposition.

With these interventions made by the government, the labor sector was able to withstand the unforeseen predicaments caused by the pandemic. These initiatives have enabled our workers to maintain their significant impact on the country’s growth, prosperity, and development. These workers have become the very foundation of the stability and progress of our Nation. 

As the pandemic remains to pose challenges in the labor sector, the government should prioritize protecting the rights and improving the well-being of all Filipino workers.

SALUTE to all the hardworking men and women of the country. Happy Labor Day, everyone!

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