The COVID-19 outbreak has significantly impacted the global economy and sent it into a slowdown. The Philippines, for that matter, is no exception. The pandemic’s long-term effects are starting to be felt, with some companies announcing redundancies, retrenchments, or layoffs.
According to an article from Villaraza and Angangco The Firm, as of April 2020, the records of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that almost 1.4 million workers have been displaced due to temporary closures of businesses brought about by the Philippine government’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to that, over 600,000 additional workers are now experiencing reduced incomes due to the adoption of flexible work arrangements (FWAs).
As the country reels from the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have to face difficult decisions that may adversely affect their workforce. Employers have had to find ways to make ends meet. Alternative work methods have been adopted to sustain operations, and where possible, cut down on costs. However, despite all the efforts to mitigate losses, some companies could have no option but to downsize their workforces or permanently close the business.
While no one wants to lay-off their employees in these uncertain times, some may have to do so to stay afloat. All these and more were addressed in this week’s HR Nation Masterclass Webinar titled “Work Termination Due To COVID-19: Essentials for HR”.
The expert guest speakers were the team from Solis Medina Limpingco Fajardo Law Offices led by Attorney Jose Gerardo “Boyet” Medina, Managing Partner, assisted by Attorney Felix Michael Villa and Attorney Anna Marie Pagtabunan.
Navigating the delicate balance of employee rights and employer prerogatives on temporary and permanent closures and lay-offs is currently a hot topic given the fact that there have been thousands of work terminations over the past months due to COVID-19. The expert guest speakers discussed what HR should do to follow the necessary legal procedures and processes.
Atty. Felix Michael Villa shared a very detailed presentation of what employers and employees should know regarding their rights and duties under the Philippine law. First, he discussed the country’s current situation in response to the pandemic continuing with the adaptation of flexible work arrangements under Labor Advisory No. 9, Series of 2020.
According to him, flexible working arrangements, which was introduced back in 2009 as a coping mechanism and remedial measure in alleviating the effects of a global financial crisis, are better alternatives than termination of employees’ services or total closure of establishments. Before implementing such, responsible individuals or organizations must notify the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which has jurisdiction over the workplace, of adopting any of the available FWAs.
Although the implementation of FWA is not mandated and is voluntary since this is part of management prerogative, the employer and the employees have the autonomy to reach an agreement as long as it does not violate labor laws.
Atty. Villa was also able to discuss alternative working arrangements under the Telecommuting Act or the Work From Home Law. Signed into law last December 20, 2018, it seeks to promote new and alternative avenues of working enabled by the latest communication technologies.
The DOLE Department Order No. 202, Series of 2019, discloses the IRR of the Telecommuting Act, which is that telecommuting should be agreed upon between employer and employee. Minimum standards must be met, and policies must be established, including applicable code of conduct, performance evaluation and assessment, use and cost of equipment, employment, and non-diminution of benefits. Telecommuting employees should be given the same treatment as compared to regular reporting employees.
They were also able to address other issues on temporary work schemes regarding the pandemic, as well as answer some personal questions from the attendees. The speakers were able to impart their knowledge regarding this very interesting and relevant topic.
You may download Attorney Felix Michael Villa’s presentation here: Work Termination due to Covid 19: Essentials for HR
You may watch the webinar recording here:
Closing the event was Mr. Ivan Palisoc, Solutions Consultant from Salarium. Salarium is a cloud-based payroll software system company that lets you access your data in real-time, anytime, and anywhere with complete security.
So, whether you are the Company Admin, HR, or even an employee who’s based in the office, reporting in the HQ from a different branch or location, or even working from home, you have the power to access the system with no external or manual movement of upload and download of data.
And to help you during these trying times, they are offering a safer solution to your timekeeping hiatus. As our employees report back to the office, we are exposing our workplace to health risks. Significantly reduce physical contact without sacrificing convenience and efficiency with FacePass: a Touchless Time & Attendance Solution powered by S.A.F.E. Tech (Secured Attendance & Face-Enabled Technology).
FacePass is a time and attendance solution under Salarium’s Transparent Timekeeping module. This service will be offered as a standalone solution but can be optionally integrated with Salarium’s Effortless Payroll module in the future (once available).
Powered by S.A.F.E. Tech, the biometric device that will be used to render the FacePass service to their clients, this service automates your workplace’s safety entry protocols. It efficiently monitors your employees’ time and attendance at the same time—all without the need for physical contact.
To know more about the product, you may visit https://www.salarium.com/facepass/.