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Officials Encourage Work-From-Home Arrangement Due To COVID-19 Threat

Fear of the coronavirus spikes in the country again after the confirmation of fresh cases.

Senators are appealing to employers to consider the work-from-home arrangement to minimize the chances of COVID-19 from spreading in the country. The appeal comes after the Department of Health (DOH) announced on March 6 that there are two new confirmed cases of infections in the Philippines. 

The individuals, who are both Filipinos, have no travel history to countries affected by the coronavirus. On March 7, the department announced the confirmation of the sixth case in the country, the wife of one of the earlier confirmed patients.

Senators Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros have called out for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to heighten its efforts in encouraging employers in the country to allow the work-from-home arrangement.

The Telecommuting Law (Republic Act No. 11165) institutionalizes working remotely from home for employees and is integrated with the Labor Code principles.

In a statement sent to Manila Bulletin, Villanueva, who is also the chair of the Senate labor committee, said: "While it’s not for all workers because some need to be physically present in their places of work, telecommuting will also help minimize work disruption and stem the projected economic impact of the disease."

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He also reminded that employers are mandated to maintain a safe working environment for workers under the country’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSH) Law.

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Hontiveros aired the same concern. "Kung pwede namang hindi araw-araw pumasok at mag-commute, mas maiiwasan natin ang risk of transmission. Extra protective measures should be provided by employers."

The DOLE, however, earlier reiterated that the set-up is not mandatory and that it could only be implemented if both the company and its employees agree on it. In an interview with radio DZBB, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said, "May consensus dapat. Walang sapilitan 'yan."

The new cases in the country include a Deloitte employee working in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, and a 62-year-old man who frequented the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, City.

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