“Enhanced Community Quarantine” Guidelines for Employers and Employees

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President Rodrigo Duterte’s signed guidelines on the one month “enhanced community quarantine” response to COVID-19 emphasize that “employers are not entitled to sack their employees who don’t report to work”. This was included to the new directives as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered that the employees can refuse to work amidst the quarantine period. According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday, under the “enhanced community quarantine” mandate, the employees do not have to report if they don’t want to; they will be excused.

The “enhanced community quarantine” is taking effect from March 17 until April 12 to limit the movement of the people as part of the containment effort by the government. However, this directive may be subject to change, depending on the decisions from Malacaniang. Meanwhile, the president also declared a “nationwide calamity for six months” with regards to the so-called COVID-19 outbreak. 

Labor Secretary Bello also said that workers can use their leave credits for the absences as adherence to the strict home quarantine mandates. However, some health workers and government employees are exempted but they have to follow stringent regulations and work protocols as a measure to avoid infection from the disease. DOLE encourages employees to file complaints to against those employers who would force them and to those who disobey this mandate. This directive was based under RA 11058, which allows workers to refuse to work without threat of reprisal in case an imminent danger exists in the workplace that may result in “illness, injury or death.”

DOLE also claimed that it ensured financial assistance to employees in the entire Luzon affected by the month-long quarantine worth Php 1.3 billion. According to DOLE, so far 97 companies implemented flexible work arrangements while 28 establishments have decided to suspend its operations. Meanwhile, workers of companies that are engaged in basic necessities or services are still required to work and are still entitled to financial assistance, including 13th month pay. Some services are also encouraged to adopt work arrangements that “don’t require physical reporting or attendance”.

Employees that are excluded from the work suspension due to the quarantine are soldiers, policemen, health workers, some government workers, media staff, and others working under industries providing essential services. The government also guaranteed that workers affected by suspension will be entitled to receive assistance from DOLE and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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