Quick Feedback After the Backlash (Yay!)
After issuing the DOLE and DTI Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-04, Series of 2020 last August 15 afternoon, the two were quick to listen to the constructive feedback of everybody else (Thank you, you guys!) and immediately issued a clarificatory statement regarding two questionable issues I had with the original circular:
- Medium to large companies “enjoined” to provide shuttle buses
- Companies with priority employees “shall RT-PCR” them regularly. For the tourist industry in selected tourist zones, it was once every 4x a week. For most others, it was once every 3 months, regardless of the presence of symptoms
Here is the new memo, which thankfully allays our fears for now:
DTI releasing this cute infographic a day after they dropped the Circular, clarifying that employers CAN charge the shuttle services to the employees following fair prices. This is fair for both employers and employees:
And this memo which they only issued yesterday – same wordings but these are from the DOLE and DTI:
This means that despite the hoopla from the last memo, the operative word is still MAY. Recommendation pala siya… for now.
In other words, more or less status quo. So if someone is tested positive, please follow the same pattern that I’ve drafted out here in HR Talk: What to do when a staff tests positive? BUT with additional requirements given by the DOLE and DTI Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-04, Series of 2020 here, 8 Questions from the DTI and DOLE Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 Answered so You Don’t Have to Read the 22-Page Document Dropped Last August 15.
This is awesome news, more or less — but can Philhealth Step Up?
I’m not sure why Philhealth was even mentioned — the word out is that Philhealth is stopping payment of their Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) due to alleged anomalies in their advances. This by the way is NOT good news – my initial thought was, “Are they nuts?”
I know that there’s a lot of irregularities, but suspending COVID-19 payments at this critical time will stress out the medical system. Are we okay to go on the extreme and stop COVID-19 payments at the time hospitals need it the most?
And then there’s this news — Philippine Red Cross is stopping testing due to Philhealth’s Php 714 million liability.
To be fair, this is a recent reimbursement naman application kasi.
The agency recently made a payment of about P123 million to Red Cross but it still has to settle its payment of about P714 million to the humanitarian organization. Philhealth officials explained that it cannot process immediately the claims of Red Cross as it was only submitted recently. “We have already paid last Tuesday around P123 million. However, they submitted a new list of billing since Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and that is the claim for the P714 million,” he said (emphasis mine).
Yan naman kasi, kaka file lang ng reimbursement, gusto bayad agad. Reminds me of some staff I know who delay their filing and want to be reimbursed on the spot. Ayoyo!
Companies to Be More Cautious, but at Least Fears is Mitigated For Now
I would like to say I am aware that I was being too doom and gloom on my last post. Many of you said this is unlike me. I’m usually cheery, optimistic and a go go go type of person.
I agree — I ran the numbers and just by reading the circular, realized that the government was making too big of an ask for large-scale companies.
I was imagining companies running the same numbers and seriously considering closing shop due to the immense ask — Free face mask, free face shields, free PPEs, free RT-PCR / Swab Testing (Emphasis mine), free shuttle buses and hatid sundo (until it was clarified), free accommodation. The list goes on and on:
For the company I manage, the ask was still palatable. In my mind, I was thinking:
“RT-PCR cost me Php 3,300. I can make it work if I find a cheaper source. I can do it around the third month or if someone exhibits COVID-19 like symptoms whichever is earlier, to let everyone else rush to the testing center first. By the second or third month, cheaper clinics will sprout and my costs will go down. Schedule the testing where I know it’s ok to close for 2 weeks just in case somebody is positive. Once we get tested, we are now compliant.”
However, given their scale, large companies may not have these leeway of time. They will be pressured by the LGU for immediate compliance.
The LGUs might be on their back to test their staff more stringently given the hundreds of people in their employ. If there’s one who is positive, it’s a big deal. Even their standard operating procedure of 24 hour disinfecting becomes a news item and creates bad PR for the company.
See what happened to NIDEC when obviously, people inevitably tested positive as they do with the sheer number of their employees. GMA painted them as the boogeyman, which is not good for business.
Please note that the 290 employees who tested positive were asymptomatic. So while the company was merely following the Standard Operating Procedure of disinfecting the factory when somebody is positive, naging masama tuloy sila.
In addition to just a few notable headlines which is only the tip of the iceberg:
- ABS-CBN shut down last May 5 due to the Congress not renewing their franchise.But hey, that’s still a total of 11,000 employees. 60% are not regular employees, but still employees.
- Pilipinas Shell permanently shutting down all its oil refinery in the Philippines announced last May 24.
- Jollibee announced they will close 255 out of the 3285 company-owned stores, or 7.76% of their total stores in the Philippines. This by the way is not just COVID-19’s fault but rather their hasty purchase of CBTL, Smashburger and other expensive purchases that’s fueled by debt last years. Because of all these purchases, Jollibee had to borrow USD 600 million from the debt market in January — pre-COVID 19 times mind you — which put a damper in helping them mitigate the pandemic. What to do if you’re short on cash?
Image Source: Jollibee raises $600M from offshore capital mart debut, Inquirer, January 17, 2020This was the result:
- “The spending for business transformation includes closure of 255 company-owned stores, change in ownership of 95 stores from company to franchisees, payment of pre-termination penalties of stores in the US and China, closure of supply chain facilities, and reduction in the size of the organization in various countries where we do business,” it added.
These things do carry weight when it comes to foreign investors leaving the country. Lockdowns do NOT help. I personally do not blame the government, but they do put a damper to business operations.
“The Philippines announced on March 12th that the capital Manila will be “capped” (community segregation) for 30 days starting March 15th. All sea, land and air transportation to and from Manila has been suspended. Manila has three of the eight major airports in the Philippines.
MLCC capacity will be hit hard. The Philippines are an important manufacturing base for Japanese and Korean manufacturers. Murata, Samsung Electronics, and Taiyo Yuden have factories in the Philippines. Murata and Samsung Electronics have 15 percent and 40 percent of their MLCC production capacity in the Philippines. In addition, the volcanic eruption in the Philippines in January has restricted air transportation, and the industry subsequently has concerns over the supply of MLCCs.”
The Key is to be Balanced and Work With the Employers, Not Against Them
Yes, we have to be careful. Everyone must follow the health guidelines, and everyone — especially the employers must be proactive in ensuring the employed follow these rules. However, there is a balance of asking for compliance and killing the goose that lay the golden egg, which are Businesses.
You may strangle it. You may bruise it. You may starve it for a day.
But for goodness sakes, DO NOT KILL IT.
- Adult unemployment in the Philippines rose to 45.5%, a 28-point increase from 17.1% in December 2019, and a new record high from the 34.4% logged in March 2012.
- This is equivalent to 27.3 million jobless adults in July 2020 vs. 7.9 million in December 2019. This number is understandable but July is already GCQ, so the numbers should be lower.
- There are more people looking for jobs – most likely because many OFWs have gone home and hence, kailangan nang kumayod ng sarili: Adult labor force participation rate in July 2020 is at a whopping 86.4% (Estimated: 60.0 million adults) vs. 68.7% (Estimated: 45.5 million adults) in December 2019.
- IMPORTANT – Half had been jobless BEFORE COVID-19 even hit (Toinks): 50% of respondents lost their jobs or livelihood during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis. 50% said they lost their jobs BEFORE the pandemic hit the country.
- Survey is based on calling a sample size of 1,555 adult Filipinos. Methodology: Used a mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing so take this survey with a grain of salt.
- Those who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis was highest in Balance Luzon (23 percent), followed by Visayas (19 percent), Mindanao (19 percent), and Metro Manila (18 percent).
NOTE: Labor force defined as adults (18 years old and above) with a job or are looking for a job. Labor force participation rate is the proportion of adults in the labor force.
Personal Take on the Unemployment
At a survey sample size of 1,555, I would still take the survey results with a grain of result. The sample size is still way too small, and Fiipinos have a problem of not knowing the terminologies. Employees who are in floating status may consider themselves as “unemployed,” even though they may still be employed but are not asked to report to work. So I’m still not panicking.
With the recent clarification issued by the DOLE and DTI regarding the shuttle buses and the COVID-19 testing, hope is restored. Basically, it’s status quo more or less, with a few more details which is a headache to do, but still bearable AND REASONABLE given that employers and the government are partners in combating COVID-19.
“MAY” IS GOOD
GCQ for COVID-19 hotspots
Source: Philippine Star Twitter
Kaya natin to!