The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday encouraged private companies to implement work-from-home (WFH) arrangements amid a rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said working from home not only reduces the risk of spreading the virus in workplaces but also spares the workers’ families from contracting the disease as well.
He said this is possible under the Telecommuting Act.
“May gawaing work from home, merong hindi. Hindi pwede work from home halimbawa ay (There are jobs where work from home is applicable, there are others where this is not applicable. An example of which is) embalmers. Pero iba pa din face to face, sana magtuloy tuloy (Of course, it would be better if face to face work continues) we just have to balance,” he said in a press briefing.
Laguesma, however, said they are not keen on restoring antigen testing in worksites.
“Hindi tayo pwede magdikta. Pero sa ating sariling pakiramdam, kung may sintomas, magpatest ng voluntary (We cannot impose. But if one feels symptoms, it would be better to undergo voluntary testing),” he added.
Meanwhile, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez noted that they have earlier issued a labor advisory regarding work-from-home arrangements.
“Inissue namin yun para magbigay ng guidance sa mga employers at workers in case mag implement ng flexi work arrangement. Para alam ng empleyado at employers ang rights and obligations. Matagal na yan, management prerogative yun. (We have issued an advisory to provide guidance to employers and workers in case of the implementation of a flexible working arrangement. This is for employees and employers to be aware of their rights and obligations. It has long been issued and it is based on management prerogative) But we need to limit the management prerogative so that workers won’t be prejudiced sa benefits nila (on their benefits),” Benavidez added.
Benavidez, however, said they have yet to receive reports of Covid-19 cases in workplaces.
“Under Occupational Safety and Health law, required sila (they are required) to report injuries, illnesses na nangyari (which happened) in a given period. We expect na may pagtaas na talaga (that there is an uptick) given the mobility at holidays. Pero in case may pagtaas (But in case of a surge in cases), ready naman employers at workers. Alam na nila ano ang gagawin (our employers and workers are ready. They know what to do),” he said.
On Monday, the Department of Health reported that the country recorded 2,725 new Covid-19 cases from Dec. 12 to Dec. 18 — 50 percent higher than the 1,821 new cases logged in the previous week.