Employers barred from sacking workers during quarantine period

MANILA – Employers are not allowed to sack their workers who fail to report for work during the one-month quarantine period in the entire Luzon amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.

The latest directive was included in a bulletin, which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, that contains the “basic do’s and don’ts” during the implementation of Luzon-wide “enhanced” community quarantine from March 17 to April 12.

“Employers should not terminate their employees by reason only of not reporting for work because of the Covid-19 situation,” the bulletin read.

Employers should not require their employees to report for work, unless their company is “engaged in basic necessities or services.”

Under the bulletin, employers are encouraged to adopt a work arrangement that will not require “physically reporting for work.”

Employers are also prodded to extend financial assistance and grant prorated 13th month pay to their employees.

Amid the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country, Duterte on Monday implemented enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon until April 12.

In the Philippines, around 187 people have already been infected with Covid-19, a new strain of virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

People living in the island of Luzon are required to observe strict home quarantine and limit their movements during the month-long quarantine period.

On Tuesday night, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said workers cannot be punished because of their failure to go to work amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Bello added that employees may file a complaint against their employers before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Since they are under enhanced community quarantine, then they can really not report. And they will be excused. There will be no basis for them to be disciplined,” he said.

The government assured that those who have been affected by the work stoppage will receive social amelioration packages from DOLE and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Individuals who are not covered by the work suspension include policemen, soldiers, health workers, authorized government workers, media practitioners, and those rendering essential services.

Those who are still allowed to go to work are told to avoid asking “non-exempted” individuals to accompany them to their workplace. (PNA)