EMPLOYERS can now “float” their workers for up to one year during a national emergency, but the affected workers can still find alternative modes of employment.
Labor Silvestre Bello 3rd signed Department Order (DO) 215-2020 to amend Section 12 of Rule 1 of the Implementing Book VI on Employment Relationship, extending the allowable period to float or to place under temporary suspension workers for up to one year.
However, the Labor Code limits the floating status of workers to only six months.
The DO states employees will not lose their jobs if they find alternative employment while under floating status.
“In case of declaration of war, pandemic and similar national emergencies, the employer and the employees through the union, if any, or with the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment, shall meet in good faith for the purpose of extending the suspension of employment for a period of not exceeding six months,” the order added.
“Provided, however, that the employees shall not lose employment if they find alternative employment during the extended suspension of employment except in cases of written, unequivocal and voluntarily resignation,” it said.
However, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said on Wednesday the DO 215-2020 violates the Labor Code and that Bello as Labor Secretary has no authority to amend the law.
Since it is a Code, BMP said it is only Congress that has the power to amend it.
The labor group also said DO 215-2020 is open to abuse.
“DO 215 allows employers to minimize, if not totally circumvent, the payment of separation pay commensurate to the length of service employees have rendered. This measure blatantly eschews any recognition of the worsening conditions of Filipino workers under the pandemic,” BMP President Luke Espiritu said.
Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said labor groups are free to question the legality of the DO.
“We welcome that. It will enrich jurisprudence. But I hope that they won’t invoke the DO to benefit their members. We don’t want to see employees lose their employment, lest, they permanently lose if they are dismissed on the sole ground that the six months floating (status) has already lapsed,” he added. SOVEREIGNPH