Work from home pushed amid coronavirus fears

On Friday, the Department of Health announced two new confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. Both new confirmed cases are Filipino, and one of them did not have any recent travel history.

On Saturday, the health agency confirmed another COVID-19 case. The new case is the wife of the patient who tested positive the previous day and had no travel history.

Due to this, Senator Joel Villanueva urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to increase its efforts in pushing for telecommuting or work-from-home arrangements in many businesses to aid in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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

Senator Risa Hontiveros also issued the same appeal on Saturday. “The people need a ‘work-from-home’ option,” she said.

“Kung pwede namang hindi araw-araw pumasok at mag-commute, mas maiiwasan natin ang risk of transmission,” she added.

She also urged employers to provide “access to running water, soap, sanitizer, and mask (if needed).”

The Telecommuting Law (Republic Act No. 11165) institutionalizes work-from-home as a work arrangement and coordinates its principles with the Labor Code.

On Wednesday, the DOLE issued an advisory that states the guidelines on the implementation of flexible work arrangements in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the labor and employment agency encourages the use of a work-from-home set-up, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, said on Saturday that such work arrangement, under the law, is not mandatory and could only be implemented if employers and workers mutually agree on it.

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