Thursday, October 29, 2020

Employers can evade separation pay via extension of floating status—labor group


The militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM) countered the position of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that DO 215 extending the floating status of workers to one year is a measure to protect workers. “DO 215 is pro-employer as it allows them to evade payment of separation benefits to workers who are now more than six months on forced leave,” insisted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.


PM is calling on the DOLE to recall DO 215 and submit the proposal to the deliberation of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council where labor, employers and government are represented. “We appeal to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to recall DO 215. DOLE orders should be subject to tripartite agreement and not be unilateral decisions of government,” Magtubo asserted.


He answered DOLE’s claim that the Labor Code is silent on the floating status of workers: “Article 310 provides that workers are deemed not terminated—meaning employees are put on forced leave or floating status—when the operations of a company are suspended, which is the scenario at present. But Article 301 explicitly mandates that such suspension cannot exceed six months—and for good reason more than half a year is too long for workers to suffer on no work, no pay.”


PM avers that thousands of workers have already filed complaints for constructive dismissal because their employers have not reinstated them since the lockdown started in March. “Who will benefit from the dismissal of these cases because of DO 215? Thus the DOLE is being disingenuous when it says that DO 215 is protective of workers,” Magtubo stated.


He recalled that the DOLE earlier floated the deferment of the 13th month pay but backtracked because of outrage over the proposal. PM is calling on workers to similarly express opposition to DO 215.


Magtubo maintained that “DO 215 is another example of DOLE’s social distancing from workers in the time of covid. Earlier DOLE released a series of orders and advisories such as DO 213 that suspended complaints and inspections and LA 17 that allowed diminution of wages and benefits. All these disadvantaged workers impacted by the lockdown and opened them to abuse by employers. Labor’s challenge finally led to DO 213’s repeal by DO 214 which permitted the operation of the dispute resolution mechanisms for workers.”

October 29, 2020

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