In view of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in cooperation with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), conducted a high-level consultative meeting on Monday, 9 March 2020 at the DOLE Building, Intramuros, Manila.
The meeting was attended by representatives from various industry associations such as the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Exporter’s Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport), Philippines Association of Legitimate Service Contractors (PALSCON), Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCI), Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc. (PHOAI), Hotel Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP), Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), European Chamber, Japanese Chamber, Philippines Constructors Association Inc. (PCA), People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI), Philippine Inter-Island Shipping Association (PISA) and Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), among others.
The NEDA gave a presentation on the estimated economic and employment impact of the COVID-19 as of 5 March 2020:
Impact on employment via travel and tourism
- Loss of 30,000 to 60,000 jobs
- Reduction in tourist arrival by 1.42M
- NEDA assumes that the restriction in passenger traffic from China, HK and Macau, as well as South Korea, will last until June 2020.
Impact on economy
- Loss of Php 93 Billion to Php 187 Billion as to value of goods and services produced
- Decrease of 0.5 to 1.0 percentage points as to 2020 GDP Growth
- Increase in budget deficit to 3.3% – 3.4% of GDP
- Increase in monthly inflation by 0.1 – 0.2 percentage points
- Encourage telecommuting and/or alternative work arrangement
- Allow reduction of work hours/workdays, rotation of workers and forced leave
- Allow exporters to sell to the domestic market
- Use programs to provide unemployment/sickness benefits, emergency employment and re-employment through the SSS and the DOLE Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program
- Promote domestic tourism
On the other hand, the DOLE issued the following Labor Advisories:
During the consultation, most of the concerns of the employer representatives present focused on the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, particularly, how to move forward considering business losses and how much longer this epidemic will spread. In response, the DOLE referred to the above-mentioned Labor Advisories to address various issues raised.
In sum, Labor Advisory No. 4 provides for precautionary measures at the workplace that employers are directed to do such as cleaning and disinfecting work areas. In addition, the Labor Advisory likewise provides for guidelines for care of workers who are sick or with fever.
Corollary, Labor Advisory No. 9 provides for alternative work arrangements which may be considered by employers other than the traditional or standard workhours, workdays and workweek, to wit:
- Reduction of Workhours and/or Workdays
- Rotation of Workers
- Forced Leave
It is important to note that employers and employees are encouraged to explore other alternative work arrangements in order to cushion and mitigate the effect of the loss on income of the employees.
In the end, Sec. Bello of the DOLE stated that a continuing dialogue with employer representatives is necessary, and should be at least held every two weeks.
ECOP President Mr. Ortiz-Luis, then manifested that ECOP had decided to postpone this year’s National Conference of Employers due to the ongoing COVID19 outbreak. However, in line with the continuing dialogue with the DOLE, Mr. Ortiz-Luis offered that ECOP is willing to organize the next high-level consultation meeting to be held on 31 March 2020 at Crown Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Center, Quezon City.
Sec. Bello accepted the offer of ECOP and announced that the next high-level consultation meeting shall be held on 31 March 2020 at the Crown Plaza Manila Galleria, Quezon City.
Meeting was adjourned thereafter.