Don’t fire workers unable to work during lockdown, Palace urges private firms

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 02:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2020 04:38 PM

People enter the border of Batasan in Quezon City and San Mateo, Rizal after they were given around 30 minutes to cross by PNP personnel manning the checkpoint before closing it in March 16, 2020 as authorities instituted an enhanced community quarantine in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Philippines urged private companies on Wednesday to keep workers even if they were unable to report for work during the month-long lockdown of Luzon to control the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles appealed to companies to adopt a “work from home” arrangement or other schemes that would do away with physical reporting for work until April 12.

“Employers should not terminate their employees by reason only of not reporting for work because of the COVID-19 situation,” Nograles said during a televised briefing.

Employers should also refrain from forcing their workers to report for work in light of the public health crisis, he said.

“Unless the company is engaged in basic necessities or services, employers should not require their employees to report for work,” Nograles said.

Only businesses offering basic and critical services, and primary commodities are allowed to operate during the month-long lockdown according to government guidelines.

President Rodrigo Duterte called on business firms to give their employees their 13th-month pay even if it’s pro-rated, or even half of their monthly salaries for them to survive possible loss of income during the "enhanced community quarantine."