COVID lockdown displaces 600K workers

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    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (Screengrab from UNTV.ph)

    AS the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases continues to rise, so does the number of workers temporarily displaced by the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon region.

    According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), some 630,000 workers have already been displaced by the ECQ.

    DOLE records show that 460,768 formal sector workers were displaced either by reason of temporary closure or flexible work arrangements as reported by 15,213 establishments.

    On the other hand, another 169,232 belonging to the informal sector have also been adversely affected by the lockdown.

    Because of the rising number of displaced employees, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III again appealed to affected establishments to submit applications for the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) on behalf of their employees.

    “We appeal again to companies that, for the sake of your employees and workers, submit your reports so that we may be able to extend them their most needed assistance,” Bello said in a statement.

    As for informal sector workers, the labor chief urged them to continue applying for the emergency employment program despite the availability of the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

    “DOLE still administers the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers #Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK), which provides the equivalent of daily minimum wage for 10 days of work for the informal sector workers,” he said.

     DEFERRED HOLIDAY PAYS

     Meanwhile, Bello has given the green light for private sector employers to defer payment of the mandatory holiday pays for the three national holidays this April.

    DOLE’s Labor Advisory No. 13-A—2020 states that private employers can delay the payment of holiday pays to their employees for April 9, 10, and 11, with the first two being regular holidays and the last one being a special non-working day.

    Declared as regular holidays are April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan and Maundy Thursday) and April 10 (Good Friday). Also declared as a special non-working day is April 11 (Black Saturday).

    “On account of the existence of a national emergency as aforementioned, employers are allowed to defer payment of holiday pay on April 9, 10 and 11, 2020 until such time that the present emergency situation has been abated and the normal operations of the establishment is in place,” the advisory said.

    On the other hand, the labor chief said those that were forced to temporarily shut down operations during the lockdown may forego payment of holiday pays.

    “Establishments that have totally closed or ceased operation during the enhanced community quarantine period are exempted from the payment of the holiday pay,” said Bello.

    At the same time, Bello likewise issued Labor Advisory 14-2020 which states that the 30 days within which the ECQ is imposed is excluded in the counting of the probationary time of an employee.

    “For purposes of determining the six-month probationary period, the one-month ECQ period is not included thereof,” the advisory read.

    Under the Labor Code, probationary employment shall not exceed six months from the date the employee started working.

    It further states that an employee, who is allowed to work after his/her probationary period, shall be considered as a regular employee already.