DOLE pleads with employers to pay workers displaced by quarantine

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MANILA, Philippines – Phil Star — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III appealed to employers to pay their workers even though work has been suspended for many due to the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon, which has been extended to April 30.

Although the official quarantine only covers the entire island of Luzon, local governments in the Visayas and Mindanao have announced similar measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

“I once again knock on the kind hearts of our employers, especially the conglomerates and big businesses. Please extend further your generosity to your employees and workers. Your good-heartedness and compassion is a great help to the government,” he said.

In a statement, the labor secretary said more than a million workers have been affected by business closures and by flexible work arrangements since the quarantine was imposed in March. He said 98% of around 42,000 businesses are seeking the one-time P5,000 per worker financial assistance from the labor department’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program.

Broken down by region, the Metro Manila had the most displaced workers at 246,810 followed by Central Luzon at 179,875 and Calabarzon (4-A) with 99,178.

The following regions also have high numbers of displaced workers:

  • Davao region – 90,414
  • Cagayan Valley – 75,189
  • Central Visayas – 51,150
  • Cordillera Administrative Region – 46,614
  • Northern Mindanao – 46,351
  • Bicol Region – 41,322
  • Western Visayas – 36,526
  • Mimaropa (4-B) – 30,721 workers

Regions with the fewest affected regions are CARAGA (26,981), Eastern Visayas (24,940), Zamboanga Peninsula (24,664), Ilocos Region (17,378) and Soccsksargen (11,536).

Citing department data, Bello said 1,048,649 workers have been “affected by temporary closures or flexible work arrangements” and another “close to a quarter of a million” in the informal sector have been seeking assistance as well.

Most of the workers belong to the manufacturing, hotel, restaurants and tourism-related sectors, and to the education sector.

“Most of the affected were displaced by the temporary closure of about 31,612 establishments involving 719,649 workers, with another 10,224 enterprises resorting to flexible work arrangements which include reduction of workdays, work rotation, forced leave and work from home or telecommuting affecting 366,404 workers,” the Department of Labor and Employment also said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier appealed to employers to release the 13th Month pay of workers early to help employees cope with the disruption brought by the quarantine.

OIC Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay, who is in charge of CAMP, said DOLE has already assisted about 180,000 workers with close to P900 million already released. CAMP has an allocation of P1.61 billion that is seen to help around 322,000 workers.

A separate program for workers in the informal sector—Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers Program-Barangay Ko, Bahay ko—has assisted around 138,000 and processed a total of 235,949 beneficiaries under the program, Director Karen Trayvilla of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, said. Phil Star

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