De Lima wants probe on BPO workers placed on 'floating status' during COVID-19 crisis

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2020 12:01 PM

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a resolution urging the Senate to probe the status of business process outsourcing (BPO) employees who were allegedly placed on "floating status" during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

The Senate needs to review several labor policies after reports that some regular workers have been placed on a "90-day floating status" as investors pulled out of the Philippines during the health and economic crisis, De Lima said in a statement.

"The designation of floating status to employees is a labor practice where employers capitalize on legal loopholes in order to protect assets and capital investments and clear them from any financial obligations they may have to their employees for extended periods of time," she said.

"Despite being regular employees, workers are left with no choice but to accept the status quo rather than face permanent retrenchment should they seek other employment opportunities elsewhere," she said.

Allowing companies to place workers on "floating status" should be "re-examined, particularly during extraordinary times of crisis such as the one brought by the COVID-19 pandemic," De Lima said in her Senate Resolution No. 462, filed on July 2, 2020.

Last month, Sen. Imee Marcos urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to look into the alleged non-payment of call center agents' salaries during the COVID-19 crisis.

The BPO industry accounts for 12 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product and employs some 1.4 million workers.

While the number of unemployed Filipinos ballooned to 7.3 million in April, experts said that the BPO industry may expect growth this year as foreign firms avail of offshore services to cut costs during the global pandemic.