Cush­ion­ing the im­pact of Covid-19

The Manila Times - - Front Page - BY ANNA PA­TRI­CIA M. DERECHO

IN light of the na­tion’s grow­ing con­cern for the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte placed the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion on a com­mu­nity quar­an­tine on March 12, 2020.

See­ing that the com­mu­nity quar­an­tine would not be sufficient to ad­dress the threat of the coro­n­avirus dis­ease 2019 (Covid-19), Duterte, on March 16, is­sued an or­der that placed the en­tire Lu­zon area on en­hanced com­mu­nity quar­an­tine sta­tus.

This is­suance also or­dered the sus­pen­sion of all mass pub­lic trans­porta­tion and the clo­sure of all pri­vate es­tab­lish­ments, save for some that pro­vide es­sen­tial ser­vices or sell ba­sic goods. Some sec­tors, in­stead of to­tally clos­ing, opted to im­ple­ment flex­i­ble workingar­range­ments. But, in ei­ther case, mil­lions of work­ers lost or may have lost their source of in­come.

To pro­tect the work­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor and to help them in this time of grave need, the Department of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DoLE), through Department Or­der 209 dated March 17, 2020, is­sued the guide­lines on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Covid-19 Ad­just­ment Mea­sures Pro­gram (CAMP).

Ben­e­fits

Un­der CAMP, qual­i­fied af­fected work­ers are en­ti­tled to the fol­low­ing ben­e­fits:

– Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance — A one-time lump sum amount of P5,000 shall be given to all af­fected work­ers, the same be­ing non-con­di­tional and re­gard­less of their em­ploy­ment sta­tus (i.e.,reg­u­lar, and rank (i.e.,rankand file,su­per­vi­sory and­man­age­rial).

Rel­a­tive to DoLE La­bor Ad­vi­sory 11, Series of 2020, which states that the leaves of ab­sence of work­ers dur­ing the quar­an­tine pe­riod are to be charged against their leave cred­its, the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance may be used to cover re­main­ing un­paid leaves of af­fected work­ers.

– Em­ploy­ment Fa­cil­i­ta­tion — af­fected work­ers can also be provided ac­cess to job op­por­tu­ni­ties through job match­ing, re­fer­ral, place­ment of work­ers ei­ther lo­cal or over­seas, em­ploy­ment coach­ing and la­bor mar­ket in­for­ma­tion.

CAMP ben­e­fits are avail­able to all af­fected work­ers in qual­i­fied pri­vate es­tab­lish­ments na­tion­wide. Af­fected work­ers are those whose work hours or wages are re­duced due to the em­ployer’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of flex­i­ble workingar­range­ments(e.g.re­duc­tion of­workhours,work­days, ro­ta­tionof work­er­sand­forcedleav­e) and those whose em­ploy­ment was sus­pended by rea­son of the sus­pen­sion of op­er­a­tions or tem­po­rary clo­sure of the em­ployer’s busi­ness es­tab­lish­ment.

Em­ploy­ees who are on a work­fro­mor those em­ploy­ees who are or who will con­tin­u­ously re­ceive salaries from their em­ploy­ers are not qual­i­fied un­der the pro­gram.

DoLE clar­i­fied that for­eign work­ers and top man­age­ment of­fic ia ls(i.e ., chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, etc.) are not cov­ered by the pro­gram. How­ever, Job­start ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are in the in­tern­ship phase are qual­i­fied and are thus en­ti­tled to fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. Qual­i­fied em­ploy­ers are es­tab­lish­ments that have im­ple­mented flex­i­ble work­ing ar­range­ments or tem­po­rary clo­sure or sus­pen­sion of op­er­a­tions be­cause of the Covid-19 out­break. Un­der CAMP, it is also the obli­ga­tion of the qual­i­fied em­ploy­ers to ap­ply for the CAMP ben­e­fits on be­half of their af­fected work­ers.

Re­quire­ments that should be sub­mit­ted are Re­vised Es­tab­lish­ment

Re­port on the Covid-19 pur­suant to La­bor Ad­vi­sory 12 series of 2020 and com­pany pay­roll for the month of Fe­bru­ary or ear­lier.

These re­quire­ments must be sub­mit­ted online (the e-mail ad­dresses of the DoLE Re­gional Of­fices are con­tained in An­nex B of La­bor Ad­vi­sory 12 Series of 2020 for the di­rec­tory of e-mail ad­dresses), or at the DoLE Pro­vin­cial and/or Field Of­fices.

The DoLE shall eval­u­ate such ap­pli­ca­tion within three days. There­after, the ap­pli­cant may re­ceive ei­ther a No­tice­ofAp­proval or a No­ticeof De­nial, via elec­tronic mail.

The DoLE may deny an ap­pli­ca­tion on the fol­low­ing grounds: in­el­i­gi­bil­ity of the ap­pli­cant; mis rep­re­sen­ta­tion of facts in the ap­pli­ca­tion, or sub­mis­sion of fal­si­fied or tam­pered doc­u­ments. Im­ple­men­ta­tion

Upon ap­proval of the ap­pli­ca­tion, the con­cerned DoLE Re­gional Office shall is­sue the fi­nan­cial sup­port di­rectly to the worker’s pay­roll ac­count via bank trans­fer at the soon­est pos­si­ble time upon re­ceipt of the com­plete doc­u­men­tary re­quire­ments.

For cash pay­roll, fi­nan­cial sup­port shall be re­ceived through money re­mit­tance.

Work­ers who have re­ceived the fi­nan­cial sup­port are con­sid­ered to have com­pleted the CAMP, and a No­tice ofCom­ple­tion shall be is­sued to the af­fected em­ploy­ers via elec­tronic mail within three work­ing days.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries shall also be re­ferred by the con­cerned DoLE Re­gional Office to the near­est Pub­lic Em­ploy­ment

Ser­vices Of­fices for the pro­vi­sion of a full-cy­cle em­ploy­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tion.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries who in­tend to find sub­se­quent lo­cal and over­seas em­ploy­ment shall be re­ferred to ap­pro­pri­ate em­ploy­ers with job va­can­cies match­ing their qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, said ben­e­fi­cia­ries will also be provided with em­ploy­ment coach­ing and rel­e­vant la­bor mar­ket in­for­ma­tion.

Ef­fec­tiv­ity of CAMP

CAMP took ef­fect on March 21, 2020.

It shall also cover work­ers af­fected by the Covid-19 pan­demic as early as Jan­uary 2020 un­til the lift­ing of the strin­gent so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures on April 14, 2020, un­less oth­er­wise ex­tended by the In­ter Agency Task Force for the Man­age­ment of Emerg­ing Infectious Dis­eases.

Although D oLE’s quick re­sponse to the cri­sis and con­cern for the plight of work­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor are truly com­mend­able, there are still much to be de­sired from CAMP.

For one, the dead­line for sub­mis­sion is un­clear as the ad­vi­sory only states that the re­quire­ments must be sub­mit­ted “as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Large com­pa­nies are also un­cer­tain if they qual­ify un­der the pro­gram, con­sid­er­ing that the Department Or­der en­cour­ages them to pay for their em­ploy­ees’ salary.

It is like­wise un­clear as to how the em­ploy­ers would know if the ap­pli­ca­tion they filed on be­half of their em­ploy­ees was ap­proved or de­nied; if the de­nial would be per em­ployer, or em­ployee; and if there would be any rem­edy should an ap­pli­ca­tion be de­nied.

It is ad­mirable that DoLE en­sures that the as­sis­tance would be given di­rectly to the em­ploy­ees. This, how­ever, may not only be dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment, but also in­con­ve­nient lo­gis­tics-wise con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of em­ploy­ees who might ap­ply and qual­ify for the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, es­pe­cially for those un­der cash pay­roll. DoLE might re­con­sider cours­ing the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance through the em­ploy­ers, as this would be more con­ve­nient for DoLE and the em­ploy­ees.

While it is un­der­stand­able that the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance is af­forded only to em­ploy­ees whose salaries were re­duced by rea­son of the flex­i­ble work ar­range­ments adopted by their em­ploy­ers, DoLE may also con­sider ex­tend­ing as­sis­tance to those who con­tin­ued to ren­der service de­spite the threat of Covid-19. Perhaps the DoLE could con­sider such as­sis­tance as sim­i­lar to the haz­ard pay ex­tended by the Pres­i­dent to govern­ment work­ers who con­tin­ued to phys­i­cally re­port for work for the du­ra­tion of the lock­down through Ad­min­is­tra­tive Or­der 26.

It is cu­ri­ous how DoLE would im­ple­ment such a large-scale pro­gram ex­pe­di­tiously and con­ve­niently, while main­tain­ing a strict eval­u­a­tion of the va­lid­ity of the ap­pli­ca­tions of the em­ploy­ers.

We can ex­pect DoLE to ad­dress these con­cerns by is­su­ing a more spe­cific and stream­lined guide­lines for this pro­gram.

(The author is a ju­nior as­so­ciate at Gar gan tie lI lag an& At an an te law firm, the le­gal coun­sel of The Manila Times an­dit­saf­fil­i­ates.

This ar­ti­cle is for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion not be con­sid­ered as pro­fes­sional ad­vice to a spe­cific is­sue or en­tity. The views and opin­ions ex­pressed herein are those of the author and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the views and opin­ions of Gar­gantiel Ilagan & At an an te law firm. For ques­tions and clar­i­fi­ca­tions about the ar­ti­cle, you may reach the author at a pm der echo@

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