WITH one-fifth of its personnel hit by coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has temporarily shut down its main office in Intramuros, Manila, as well as its National Capital Region (NCR) office.

In a memorandum issued Thursday night, January 13, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered the suspension of work in its main and NCR regional offices until Monday, January 17.

"In the interest of the service and with the surge of Covid-19 cases in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR), and due to the increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases in the department, work is hereby suspended on 14 and 17 January 2022," said Bello.

"Regular work shall resume on Tuesday, 18 January 2022," he added.

He issued the directive as the number of infected officials and staff of the department rose to 128.

"It's about 21 percent of DOLE’s central office personnel of around 600," said Bello.

Earlier in the week, the labor chief already directed all DOLE offices and attached agencies in areas with surging number of Covid-19 cases to implement alternative work arrangements, including work-from-home, for their personnel.

“Skeletal workforce shall be limited to those performing or providing essential services,” he said on Tuesday, January 11.

Bello said the skeletal workforce that will remain are strongly encouraged to continue observing public health standards and other safety protocols in the workplace in order to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

DOLE's alternative work arrangements will be in effect until January 30, 2022. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)