Employees cannot be forced to report for work during the month-long implementation of the “enhanced” community quarantine in Luzon due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
“They do not have to report if they don’t want to report. Or since they are under enhanced community quarantine, then they can really not report and they will be excused. There will be no basis for them to be disciplined,” Bello said in a Palace press briefing late Tuesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine until April 12 to contain the spread of Covid-19.
All households are mandated to observe strict home quarantine and limit their movement during the imposition of the Luzon-wide quarantine.
Work is also suspended in Luzon unless the workers are in charge of health and other essential services.
Bello said employees could use their leave credits for their absences.
“Ngayon kung wala, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) na ang mananagot sa kanila (Now, if they do not have leave credits, DOLE will help them),” he said.
Bello also told workers that they could lodge before his office a complaint against employers who would force them to report for work.
Under Republic Act 11058, workers have the right to refuse to work “without threat of reprisal from the employer” in case an imminent danger exists in the workplace that may result in “illness, injury or death.”
Amid the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, about 97 companies have implemented flexible work arrangements, while 28 establishments have temporarily suspended operations, DOLE said.
The department also ensured that some PHP1.3 billion in financial assistance would be given to workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The Department of Health has so far recorded 187 Covid-19 cases in the country, with 14 deaths.