DOLE asks employers not to hastily impose disciplinary action on workers who can’t go to work

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 01:47 PM

MANILA — Employers should be considerate of workers who might not be able to return to work during the resumption of some firms' operations, the Philippine labor department said Wednesday.

“Please take care of the workers because we’re in a difficult situation. Wala po sanang mga disciplinary action na kaagad-agad gagawin (We hope that you do not immediately take disciplinary actions)," Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione said during a Department of Health media briefing.

"Take a look at it on a case-to-case basis," she added.

Dione was referring to how some employees still can’t go back to work because of limited transportation. Some businesses have been allowed to re-open as coronavirus-related quarantine measures have been relaxed by government.

“Overall, ang gusto lang natin ay umandar (ang ekonomiya), (but) at the same time, tingnan ang kapakanan ng manggagawa. Ibalanse po natin,” Dione said.

(Overall, we just want to the economy to move (but) at the same time, we’re also thinking of the welfare of the workers. We need to balance it.)

While Dione acknowledged that “workers will have to go back to work if their companies are allowed to open,” she said “companies should be kinder to employees.”

Every situation is different and should be assessed, she said, adding that those who really have no way to report to work should not be meted with disciplinary actions.

Asked if the DOLE will recommend increasing the number of sick-leave days for employees, she said it is up to the company. The minimum she said, should be 5 days a year. “Not all workers are given 15 days,” she said.

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo also reminded the public that employers who require testing for their employees despite it not being mandated by government should shoulder the costs.

She said employers should also not charge their workers for personal protective equipment that are needed for their work.

During the briefing, Castelo cited guidelines for employers, including discouraged face-to-face meetings.

Dione and Castelo also mentioned the need for employers to explore alternative work schemes such as changes in work shifts and reduction of work days.

Castelo said the DTI is already following a 4-day work week scheme, where employees would need to meet a minimum number of hours per week.