Covid-19 severely affects 10,000 biz in Davao Region

Drone shot by Mark Perandos

SINCE the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic hit Davao Region, operations of more than 10,000 establishments in the region were severely affected, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) revealed.

Lawyer Connie Torralba, mediator-arbitrator of Dole's Mediation-Arbitration and Legal Service Unit, said in a radio interview on Thursday afternoon, June 4, 2020, that the agency already recorded a total of 10,133 establishments that have partially and totally closed.

Torralba, however, said they would still have to segregate the data. But she already warned that the data would still rise with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, causing a series of revisions in work arrangement and financial constraints.

"Ang department (Dole), nakita namo nga tungod aning Covid pandemic, there may be mass retrenchment that will happen in the companies and industries (we anticipated that a mass retrenchment would happen with the Covid-19 pandemic)," the lawyer said in an interview via 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

Based on the agency's definition, partial closure means that the operation of the company still continues but with the result of some mass layoff. Total closure defines the total shutdown of the company.

While Torralba said that employees are entitled to their right to security of tenure, however, she also said gravely affected employees are also given the right to exercise their management prerogative in terminating employees provided through authorized or just cause.

"With the Covid-19 pandemic, puwede siya mahimutang sa authorized cause of separation. Pwede i-rason ang separation retrenchment to prevent losses, closure of operation or lack of service assignment (they can consider it as an authorized cause of separation to prevent losses, closure of the operation, or lack of service assignment)," she said.

However, she said terminated employees are entitled to a half month per year service separation pay or one-month separation pay, depending on which is higher.

But if the reason for the termination is due to redundancy, impossible reinstatement and lack of service assignment due to age, they are entitled to one month pay per year of service.

Torralba added that companies should give a 30-day notice before the effectivity of the separation.

However, if the termination or seize of operation is abrupt, employers should pay for the 30 days in line with the mandatory time notice.

In order to avoid reaching this scenario, Torralba said companies are encouraged to implement alternative schemes such as flexible work arrangement as a remedial measure due to the ongoing pandemic.

These include schemes such as work from home, and reduced office work hours and days.

"Para lang naa sila'y (Just so they can have an) option not to terminate or retrench the employees affected," Torralba said.

At the start of the pandemic, Dole augmented the Covid Adjustment Measures Program (Camp), wherein qualified employers will receive cash assistance from the government amounting to P5,000.

However, the department stopped the Camp program due to the depletion of the budget with the total amount of P1.6 billion.

Torralba said Dole was able to assist more than 3,000 establishments through the program. (RGL)


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