HR Talk: Why HR Should Be the Voice of Calm

We should look at the facts when we deal with COVID-19. HR Managers should be that source of calm in the tumultuous pandemic. Especially now there is a crisis, we should be well informed on the invisible enemy we are facing, and how we should react when one of our employees become COVID-19 positive.

At almost 120,000 confirmed cases, having an employee being COVID-19 positive is merely a matter of time.  With around 50,000 of active cases running around, there is a high chance that a neighbor, friend, family member, or colleague will have it.

The biggest enemy of the Philippines is NOT COVID-19. Yes, COVID-19 is lethal and is an invisible enemy that’s hard to beat. But in my opinion, the REAL enemy of the Philippines right now is FEAR.

fear covid

Fear is like the boogeyman that makes us afraid of losing our loved ones, and makes us act irrationally.

Here is the flow of this blog post for easier reference:

  1. How Can Basic Math Help Us and Our Staff Be Less Anxious of COVID-19
  2. Why testing does not give me comfort, and why the basics — wear face masks, wash hands, keep social distancing and home quarantine — will protect us more? 
  3. For critical patients, where can we call to find a hospital or quarantine center?
  4. Who Again Pays for the Rapid and Swab Testing?
  5. What if I am WFH and exhibited symptoms of COVID-19? Who shoulders the testing? How much liability will the company cover?
  6. What are my options of getting paid while on home quarantine?
  7. Is there a need for re-testing after the strict 14 day home quarantine?
  8. If you are on Forced Leave again during MECQ, what should we do?

1. How Can Basic Math Help Us and Our Staff Be Less Anxious of COVID-19?

How Many COVID-19 Positive People Are There Running Around?

As of August 7, there are 122,754 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines. A lot of people have been hawking that this number is high, which is true. The Philippines is now the 22nd highest of people who became COVID-19 positive in the world, and this is bad. This means that the Philippines did not successfully CONTAIN the pandemic, unlike our neighbors Vietnam, Taiwan and China.

As of July 7

However, it does annoy me a bit that we count the number of total cases whenever we talk about COVID-19. As of August 7, there are not 122,754 running around with COVID-19. This is untrue. The Total cases are that high, but half of them have already recovered and COVID-19 free. Specifically, while 122,754 is the number of confirmed cases of people who got infected with COVID-19, 55% of this number has recovered, leaving 53,734 still active.

We need to understand the numbers so we can calm ourselves and our people down.

As HR, we need to understand the numbers so we can calm the heck down. Of all people in an organization, it is the HR that has to be the person of zen. To do that, we need to understand the numbers and not rely much on clickbait. In the end, it’s just a matter of basic math and percentages as follows:

Active Cases as of Aug 7 – Asymptomatic Cases: 3,949 (7.35% of active)
Add: Active Cases as of Aug 7 – MILD Cases: 49,105 (85.1% of active)
Total Asymptomatic & Mild: 53,054 (98.7% of active cases)

Add: Active Cases as of Aug 7 – Severe Cases: 396 (0.74% of active)
Total Active Cases as of Aug 7 – 53,734 (43.8% of total cases)

Plus: 2,168 Deaths (1.77% of total)
Plus: 66,852 Recovered (54.5% of total confirmed cases)
TOTAL: 122,754 total confirmed cases

As of August 7, there there are around 54,000 Filipinos who are still COVID-19 positive and are either hospitalized, at home, or running around.  55% have recovered, and this is not bad news. 45% is still active. And in most of our active cases, 98.7% are either asymptomatic or mild, which is good news.

Yes, we have to be careful.

Yes, COVID-19 is a lethal disease and 15% of the senior citizens who get it will die. We should not act foolish and stop wearing our masks, washing our hands and keeping our social distancing. But understanding the numbers and the type of panic COVID-19 has created will help in calming our staff down.

Understand and explain the numbers to our staff to calm them down.

DO NOT JUST FOCUS ON THE TOTAL CASES, as this will only stress you out and is not really the number we should look at:

We heal as one
Source: Department of Health, August 8, 2020

Instead, focus on the breakdown, which shows the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country.

And if you’re still afraid, do know this, if the total confirmed cases are still under-declared because there’s so many asymptomatic Filipinos who have the disease and are not tested and declared, this is still my source of comfort because it just shows that while COVID-19 has widely infected NCR, Filipinos have shown some resilience to the disease and are NOT dying off like flies.

Not dying is good, and our death rate of 1.76% (Higher since there’s so many positive cases that are NOT accounted for)  is better than global average.

Do I think the death rates are under-declared then?

While I think the Total Rates may be under-declared, Deaths are most likely not as inflated. Late in reporting, yes. But the dead bodies can’t be hidden in the ditch no matter how hard you try.

Why?

Because it’s not easy to hide dead bodies and it takes a few hours just to cremate one body. Hindi madali sunugin or taguin ang bangkay, unless there are mass graves I do not know about. Even so, the stench will give them away. This is a mass burial in Japan during one of the big calamities. No, dead bodies are not easy to hide:

mass burial in Japan

Besides, Philippines is too big as a democracy to hide a death by COVID-19 conspiracy. Sigurado, this will be the biggest conspiracy of the year since the Philhealth scandal started. Nope, just nope. You can’t hide a thousand dead bodies in the Philippines and get away with it. Not with the number of social media warriors on both sides of the fence.

2. Why testing gives me little comfort, and why the basics — wear face masks, wash hands, keep social distancing and home quarantine — will protect us more? 

Testing does not give me much comfort because testing by its very nature is imperfect.

Even the RT-PCR Swab test, allegedly the golden standard in COVID-19 testing, will give inaccurate answers if done too early. No matter which test you use, there are different levels of inaccuracy. If you get infected by COVID-19 today, you will test NEGATIVE within the first 3 days of infection with both the Swab and Rapid Test.

Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana explains this succinctly on his Facebook post last July 21, 2020. Dr. Salvana is a member of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) technical advisory group. My answer in this question is based on his post.

According to Dr. Salvana, these are the approximate results of tests if you are infected of COVID-19, assuming an average 5-day incubation period before the onset of symptoms:

EdselSource: Dr. Edsel Maurice Savana, Facebook, July 21, 2020

What does this table mean for HR and Businesses?

a. Tests are really imperfect and there will always be asymptomatic carriers that WILL BE MISSED.

I can attest to this as the factory I talked about last time tested negative on rapid test, but was apparently positive and asymptomatic when tested with swab test. Whoops! 

b. Quarantine and isolation are super helpful in ensuring the contagiousness and spread of COVID-19 is stopped.

Even if you are a false positive or a real positive, isolating yourself from family members and colleagues will STOP the spread of virus.

c. If your employee has SYMPTOMS, test with the RT-PCR and isolate IMMEDIATELY while waiting for the results.

Work sick

Disinfect the workplace immediately. This is where the IATF based the rule of putting both the suspected COVID-19+ worker and the OTHER WORKERS PRESENT with the suspected COVID-19 on home quarantine: COVID

This is because once the symptoms come out, COVID-19 is usually at its peak of infectiousness! So naghahawaan na sa companya once the symptoms come out.

That’s why, we must assume that everyone is COVID-19 positive and wear our face masks, wash our hands and respect social distance. Prevention is better than the cure talaga.

edsel 2
NOTE: Antigen tests are still being validated and performance characteristics may still change.

Rapid tests are NOT as useful when a patient is already sick because it is still usually negative early in disease. Usually, it will only come out positive at the 14th day once there’s enough number of antibodies. 

d. If a symptomatic patient tests negative, a doctor still needs to decide whether a repeat testing is needed and if a patient needs to complete isolation regardless of the test result.

Kasi nga, there’s still a 38% chance of false negatives on RT-PCR and 100% chance on rapid testin by Day 5 on infection (Or Day 1 on symptoms). 

e. All staff with the suspected patient must now undergo home quarantine.

Any tests is not advisable at this point because it takes at least 4 days to get enough virus to test positive on the RT-PCR. For the first three days of exposure, close contacts are also not likely to be infectious but can already be quarantined until it can be ascertained that the index symptomatic patient was negative or positive. If the index patient is positive, then there are two options:

Option 1: Test everyone else with the suspected patient on their 5th day of exposure. If negative, the physician can prescribe they return to work, or complete 14 days of quarantine. If he/she becomes symptomatic, repeat RT-PCR should be done, OR

Option 2: Just to be safe, put everyone in strict home quarantine. Wala nang testing testing. Basta isolate at home na lang. Mas tipid, mas practical AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, mas safe for everyone.

Basta, the co-workers truly isolates in their quarantines. Walang pa-rebond ng buhok or pa-birthday birthday pa.

f.  The problem is, most Filipinos do NOT understand what home quarantine means.

quarantine
Pag pinauwi
because you were present with the suspected COVID-19 worker, nakikipag hug hug pa sa jowa and kapamilya. Home quarantine means to isolate at home, in your own room with hopefully your own toilet, AWAY FROM THE FAMILY.

g. For your family members who are called “second generation close contacts” — meaning they have come in close contact with the home quarantining co-worker of the suspected home quarantine employee, there is NO NEED for testing unless the co-worker develops symptoms or tests positive.

If so, follow Step B — Isolate and quarantine.

h. The biggest chance of infection are those family members who still can’t help but touch and interact with a positive COVID-19 case.

Those who are easily infected are those who are:

  • Household contacts or kasama sa bahay  — Mask ka ng mask, pero pag dating sa bahay, tinatanggal mo ang mask mo! Mahawa kabahay mo!
  • Those you share close physical contact with — Calling all jowa or asawa
  • Those you interact at least 15 minutes with without the 1 meter distance
  • Direct patient care with inadequate PPE — That’s why many health workers get infected
  • If you spent over 2 hours in the same enclosed space with inadequate ventilationKaya maraming BPO ang nagpopositive, lalo na if you share headsets 

3. For critical patients, where can we call to find a hospital or quarantine center?

For mild or asymptomatic cases, the status quo is usually to stay at home and do home quarantine. For the critical patients, they are usually sent to the hospital/quarantine center/isolation centers.

The great news is, the DOH, IATF, DILG, DOT, MMDA, and BCDA has officially launched the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) last August 6, 2020 at the MMDA Arena, Makati City. The OHCC is supposed to monitor the capacity of healthcare facilities to handle COVID-19 patients, and assist infected persons who need help in finding a hospital or an isolation facility. People can access the One Hospital Command Center via:

  • Downloading the free Pure Force Citizens app from Google Play and App Store for free,
  • Call its dedicated lines: 02-886-505-000915-777-7777 and 0919-977-3333
  • Through Quick Response (QR) codes that the public can scan.

One hospital

In anticipation of the large volume of calls and referrals, the center will be powered by an off-site call-taking and dispatch company that will enable OHCC staff to focus on directing and coordinating COVID-19 case referrals. All details gathered during the call will then be uploaded to a dispatch system that will automatically prompt OHCC coordinators from various agencies that a new case needs to be handled.

Using the DOH dashboards and protocols, the coordinators will identify the proper health facility where the case will be referred. Once identified, the coordinator will then call the receiving facility, update the dispatch system, and provide feedback to the referring facility or patient.

For emergency cases, the call taker, together with the OHCC coordinators will simultaneously coordinate with the receiving facility and provide pre-arrival instructions.

If successful, this program will be launched in other regions so all patients would know which healthcare facility to go to.

4. Who Again Pays for the Rapid and Swab Testing?

Again, testing is NOT mandatory. Hindi kailangan. So if the company requires, company should pay. If company does not require, you don’t need to take it.

Test

If your family member gets COVID-19, you cannot charge this to your company. It is only your test that can be charged, but only if company requires the testing.

If  it is only you who want to be tested, you need to pay for it, not the company.

So company can test everyone, or just the suspected patient who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and send everybody else home with instructions to do strict home quarantine until the suspected COVID-19 patient results are released.

Can you report the company if the company does not regularly test everyone every 2 weeks, saying that they are not compliant of DOLE DTI Health Guidelines?

Yes you can, but the company will NOT get in trouble with DOLE, kasi nga, testing is NOT required.

So long as they are following the DOLE DTI Health Guidelinse, they can operate, even if the company does not test their staff every 2 weeks.

Labor 17

And besides, did you read what I just wrote in #2? Hindi nga reliable ang testing. It is just a placebo effect to make you feel better. Kahit na negative ka, pwede ka pa ding maging positive, or vice-versa, regardless on what test you ues.

That’s why you need to wear your mask, keep social distancing, wash your hands and pray to God.

5. What if I am WFH and exhibited symptoms of COVID-19? Who shoulders the testing? How much liability will the company cover?

Let’s be very clear, WFH or not, Company is not liable if they have done their job in enrolling the employee into SSS and Philhealth, as per Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020:

Labor 4 - Coverage

If you are WFH and naging positive ka pa ng COVID-19, the better question is, how the heck did that happen?

eternus
Photo Source: Eternus Global

The very essence on why WFH is done by many companies is to help the government curb the spread of COVID-19, help you and your family stay COVID-19 free, and to make sure there won’t be any issues of people infecting each other and shutting down the entire operations.

If you are WFH and got COVID-19, you got COVID-19 when you went out on your personal capacity, hugged your family members who were COVID-19 positive, and (insert reason here that was not work related).

If hindi ka nag-ingat and nahawa pa ng COVID-19 kahit na WFH, paano na kaya noon?

Regardless, the same rules apply — Company does NOT need to require COVID-19 testing.

Hence, if a staff informs you that they may exhibit COVID-19 symptoms while working from home, please coordinate and contact the local barangay (Many Filipino barangays have a Facebook page) to report so that the local barangay can stand watch over the household.

Some barangays even offer hatid-sundo service for free swab testing. You just have to wait for a schedule, and they will ensure you get tested for free. Duration of release of results may vary from 5 days to 14 days, depending on the locality.

If they are asymptomatic or the symptoms are mild, the COVID-19 patient is usually asked to stay at home in isolation. Since they are already WFH, this is status quo.

The only difference is if they work or not? If they work, they get paid. If not, they don’t. They may avail of SSS Sickness Benefits if they are truly sick and have enough hulogs.

If the case is critical/serious, you may call the following DOH Hotline to find the closest available hospital or COVID-19 isolation facility. This One Hospital Command Center is 24/7 to assist you of any COVID-19 related concerns:

6. What are my options of getting paid while on home quarantine?

Not from the Employer who is not legally obliged to pay you

Under Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020, your company isn’t legally obliged to pay you (Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020). To staff who are home quarantined because either they are either suspected of being COVID-19 positive, or because a colleague of theirs was a suspected, the home quarantine is no work no pay.

Labor Advisory No. 4

This will ensure that everyone will be itching to go back to work after their home quarantine.

Probably from SSS via their SSS Sickness Benefit if you have enough contributions

Yes, you can avail of SSS Sickness Benefits if you have enough hulogs, and you can avail of Philhealth if you are COVID-19 and hospitalized.

You can however avail of SSS Sickness Benefits if you are positive of COVID-19. Here is the caveat, you must really be SICK, and this sickness is verified by a physician.

Medical Certificate To Be Filled
I wrote about how to apply on my last post, HR Talk: Top 10 Questions Re: SSS Sickness Benefit Answered. You just need to ensure that you have enough hulogs. See table below:

Contingency Chart

This means, if you get sick this August 2020, you need to have at least 3 hulogs between April 2019 to March 2020. This is clear in SSS’ requirement of availing their Sickness Benefit. Be warned though, the contributions must be on time and not made retroactively or you will be disqualified for the benefit. Hindi pwedeng habulin:

RetroactiveSource: IRR of RA 11199, Social Security Act of 2018

IMPORTANT: To be covered, Self-employed and voluntary members may pay their monthly contributions prospectively or in advance, but never retroactively to cover month/s when no contribution payments were remitted.

Print out the following forms and bring them with you when you see the doctor so your doctor can fill it up on the spot if you’re really sick. Para hindi sayang ang oras and sabay sabay na ang fill up ng form.

You can Download the Forms HERE:

SSS Documents Needed

There’s Philhealth Coverage if you get Hospitalized Via COVID-19

The DOH has announced last April 15 that all Filipinos have COVID-19 coverage if they are truly positive AND hospitalized. If you get hospitalized, you have limited Philhealth coverage, which is really nice (despite the scandals).

philhealth benefits

To avail, Filipinos only need to accomplish the PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) and present with two valid IDs. Existing members with missed contributions remain eligible to avail of the COVID-19 benefits. “The PhilHealth Spokesperson also appealed to health facilities not to require deposits or advance payments from patients and assured them and the public that the government will cover their financial expenses through PhilHealth.”

So you may complain about Philhealth all you want, but it is Philhealth that will still somewhat save you if in case you are CRITICALLY ILL of COVID-19.

doctor

Pro-Tip: Choose your Hospitals Wisely. If you choose to go to a private hospital, they will charge you an arm and a leg for your diagnosis and treatment.

Every cotton bud, PPE and Kopiko will be charged to your bill. If you have limited budget, please consider a public hospital. Kasi if you go overboard the Philhealth’s case rate units, you will have to pay. No iyak tatay or nanay will make the bill go away.

7. Is there a need for re-testing after the strict 14 day home quarantine?

We have to look at the life cycle of COVID-19 to understand why there is NO NEED FOR RE-TESTING after a strict 14-day home quarantine.

Edsel

Let’s look at the hypothetical on how COVID-19 infects a typical Filipino (usually from a close contact — a neighbor, family member or boyfriend since they remove the mask when meeting these closed contacts, when the first day of symptoms start, when a RT-PCR Test is scheduled (3-5 days from calling), and the date of result release (3-7 days, sometimes even 14 days in some barangays).

We have to understand the growth of COVID-19.

Looking at Dr. Salvana’s table, when you start getting sinat, chances are you’re in Day 5 of being infected of the virus. This means you’re very contagious. All that comes near you has a high chance of being infected!

Your being contagious lasts until Day 7, where contagiousness drops. And Day 10 when you’re really not infectious anymore. Here’s a table to help you understand:

Because of how we schedule testing, which is only usually by Day 10 of infection at the earliest, that we see the positive (or negative) swab test results come out.

Not counting the fact that there might be a false negative if the RT-PCR test is done too early — which happens when you test the co-worker that’s sitting beside Suspected COVID-19 patient and was infected but is only in his 2nd or 3rd day of infection — putting EVERYONE IN CONTACT OF COVID-19 POSITIVE PATIENT in home quarantine/isolation is probably the best solution in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

By the time everyone’s done with the 14-day home quarantine, it’s day 21 and barring anyone else displaying symptoms kasi nga, they’re in isolation, they can now report back to work even without testing.

This is why on most cases, usually mild, you don’t need to re-test anymore.

It’s redundant. You’re not even contagious by this time. And it’s really just a placebo effect to make you and your co-workers feel better.

Discharge

This is following the new WHO Advisory, Critical for releasing COVID-19 Patients from Isolation:

Updated recommendation

New recommendation (published on 27 May 2020 as part of more comprehensive clinical care guidance1)

Within the Clinical Management of COVID-19 interim guidance published on 27 May 2020,1 WHO updated the criteria for discharge from isolation as part of the clinical care pathway of a COVID-19 patient. These criteria apply to all COVID-19 cases regardless of isolation location or disease severity.

Criteria for discharging patients from isolation (i.e., discontinuing transmission-based precautions) without requiring retesting[1]:

  • For symptomatic patients: 10 days after symptom onset, plus at least 3 additional days without symptoms (including without fever [2] and without respiratory symptoms)[3]
  • For asymptomatic cases[4]: 10 days after positive test for SARS-CoV-2

For example, if a patient had symptoms for two days, then the patient could be released from isolation after 10 days + 3 = 13 days from date of symptom onset; for a patient with symptoms for 14 days, the patient can be discharged (14 days + 3 days =) 17 days after date of symptom onset; for a patient with symptoms for 30 days, the patient can be discharged (30+3=) 33 days after symptom onset).

The report contains this caveat: ” The updated criteria for discharge from isolation balances risks and benefits; however, no criteria that can be practically implemented are without risk. There is a minimal residual risk that transmission could occur with these non–test-based criteria. There can be situations in which a minimal residual risk is unacceptable, for example, in individuals at high risk of transmitting the virus to vulnerable groups or those in high-risk situations or environments. In these situations, and in patients who are symptomatic for prolonged periods of time, a laboratory-based approach can still be useful.”

*Countries may choose to continue to use testing as part of the release criteria.  If so, the initial recommendation of two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart can be used.

8. If you are on Forced Leave again during MECQ, what should we do?

a. Inform DOLE and Fill Up the RKS 5 Form To Say We are Under Forced Leave due to MECQ – Government Regulations

Companies who are chosing forced leave must inform DOLE that they will stop operations from the duration of MECQ. If you haven’t already, the RKS 5 Form is now online and accessible via https://reports.dole.gov.ph/

DOLE site

It’s very easy and convenient to register:

DOLE registerYou can apply for FWA, Temporary Closure or Permanent Closure via this easy-to-access site:

Flexible

I proceeded to https://reports.dole.gov.ph/fwa and filed for Flexible Work Arrangement (Forced Leave) due to MECQ.

FWA in DOLE

Please note that before undertaking any Flexible Work Arrangement, you need to ensure that you have discussed with your staff re: your FWA Plans. I have attached a scanned copy of such consent from a company representative onto our application.

b. Provide your Staff with Hard Copies of their SSS Sickness Notification Form and SSS Reimbursement Forms.

Once again, if you get sick in August 2020, you need to have at least 3 updated payment contributions for April 2019 to March 2020:

Contingency Chart

At over 50,000 confirmed active cases running around, it’s always good to be prepared.

If you are still operational during MECQ, I highly suggest you print and provide every single employee a hard copy of the SSS Sickness Notification and SSS Sickness Reimbursement Forms IF they have enough hulogs. Once again, you can download the Forms HERE:

Forms

c. Make sure that you File the Return to Work Form when work resumes, and the COVID-19 WAIR Form every 30th of the month:

WAITFINAL WORDS

COVID-19 is truly a killer and should be respected. However, staying safe from COVID-19 is merely staying with the basics: Washing your hands, wearing a face mask, keeping social distancing and if sick, staying at home.

Corona

I personally find this infographic super useful in keeping us safe from COVID-19:

final-dotr-infographic-on-face-shields-via-dotr
Source: Philippine News Agency, August 6, 2020

Though it remains useless if we take our masks home when we get home. Because what’s the point of protecting ourselves while commuting and working if we are to remove our masks when we get home, and one of our family members is asymptomatic?

Sometimes, the easiest solution to our COVID-19 problem is not just by doing an MECQ (which has not stopped many businesses from operating), lambasting the government, or Often times, the solution is just right behind our noses, such as keeping the face masks on, except when we take a bath. Kaya no more kiss kiss hug hug kay jowa, kasi diyan talaga tayo ding naghahawaan.

Kaya po mga ka-HR, relax lang po. Our staff needs us to keep everyone together. If we are anxious, so are our people. If we are calm, so will they be. Kaya po chillax lang po, hangga’t makakaya. Remember:

Have a good weekend everyone!

 

 

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HR Talk: Top 10 Questions Re: SSS Sickness Benefit Answered

What happens when you get sick?

Uso na ang COVID-19 positive ngayon. At 95,000 confirmed cases, you will meet a suspected COVID-19 patient as you go on your daily lives. Everywhere I look, someone is positive.

Too Many People are Contracting COVID-19

My aunt’s adopted son was tested positive of COVID-19.

He is a BPO worker. Despite all health precautions, he still tested positive. Given that BPO workers work in closed air-conditioned areas with possible shared headsets and breathing space, it is easier for them to contract COVID-19. There’s just too many BPO workers running around and factors to consider that getting COVID-19 is just a matter of time. While positive, he is asymptomatic and is finishing up his 14-day home quarantine.

A factory that shut down last week.

All workers were tested via rapid test of COVID-19 and turned out negative. By the end of the week, the operations manager died at their home after complaining about COVID-19 like symptoms earlier. After testing, 8 out of 12 head office workers were positive! 6 were completely asymptomatic (no symptoms), one had a mild flu and loss of smell/taste, while the 8th one narrowly escaped being confined in the hospital after taking Lian Hua, a therapeutic drug that ex-San Juan Mayor Abalos took when he got COVID-19.

The rules are clear. According to Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020, if you are under home quarantine, those 14 days are unpaid if there’s no more leaves available.

Labor Advisory No. 4

If you get hospitalized, there is limited PhilHealth hospitalization coverage to help. Here is the maximum Philhealth coverage you can get:

Philhealth

However, there is also SSS Sickness Benefit which allows you to claim if you test positive for COVID-19. Regardless too of COVID-19, you can apply for this benefit for any prolonged sickness so long as you’re affected for 4 days or more. Excited? I am!

Tell Us More About the SSS Sickness Benefit

sick

The SSS Sickness Benefit is a benefit paid to a member for not working due to illness or accident. It is 90% of the Average Daily Salary Credit, with a maximum of 120 days in a year, up to 2 years.

SSS Sickness Benefit

The process sounds complicated but it is actually very easy. All you need to do is submit complete documents to the SSS and you will get the money. The problem is that most people don’t have their documents ready when they see their physician/get hospital confined. So when they ask HR on how to have their sickness reimbursed, they need to return to the doctor/hospital again to get their requirements. Because of the delay, employees don’t get their full reimbursements!

So here you go, para mabilis, I wrote this all-in-one post regarding SSS Sickness Benefit para lahat na ng requirements, ma-arrange na ng applicant and company. It’s a bit long because there’s small changes between an applicant who is employed and an applicant who is paying voluntarily. But once you get the gist of it, it becomes easy and convenient. Thank you talaga to SSS for providing this benefit. Imagine, at 120 days max, this is even bigger than the maternity benefit. All you need is to follow the steps when you apply. So here goes.

Here are the Top 10 Questions Re: SSS Sickness Benefit:

     1. What are the Qualifications of the SSS Sickness Benefit?
     2. How to Compute for the SSS Sickness Benefit? Do you have a convenient Sickness Benefit Calculator to share?
     3. How will SSS pay out the SSS Sickness Benefit?
     4. How many days of benefit can you claim?
     5. Can you claim this benefit if you’re an OFW? What happens if you get sick overseas?
     6. What is the Deadlines for Applying for SSS Sickness Benefit?
     7. How to Apply for the SSS Sickness Benefit if You Pay SSS Voluntarily?
     8. How to Apply for the SSS Sickness Benefit if You’re Employed
     9. What are the additional documents a company needs to provide if the SSS Sickness Benefit Claim is filed through Company Representative?
    10. What IDs Can You Use to Apply for SSS Sickness?

1. What are the Qualifications of the SSS Sickness Benefit?

a. You need to be out sick for FOUR (4) OR MORE days. It may be sick at home or in the hospital, but doctor has to verify you are sick.
b. There’s no more sick leaves left in the present year.
c. You have promptly informed the company if you’re employed. If you’re a voluntary member, inform SSS.
d. You had paid at least THREE (3) SSS contributions in the first 12 months before the semester of contingency.

Contingency Chart

IMPORTANT: You must be sick to avail of the SSS Sickness Benefit. A doctor must certify you are sick. If you are merely in home quarantine and not COVID-19 positive, do not lie on your medical certificate to claim SSS Sickness Benefit.  

Warning

2. How to Compute for the SSS Sickness Benefit?

The calculation for the SSS Sickness Benefit is very similar to the SSS Maternity Benefit — The only difference is that it’s 90% of your Average Daily Salary Credit:

  1. Check out if you have enough SSS contributions.It is the yellow box highlighted in YELLOW. You need at least 3 hulogs for the period. For example, you got sick this August 2020, you need to have at least 3 hulogs in April 2019 to March 2020 to qualify for ANY SSS sickness benefit.

Contingency Chart

          2. Get your Average Monthly Salary Credit = Top 6 Highest MSC Divided by 6

Check out the total amount of hulogs to check your Average Monthly Credit. Similar to SSS maternity benefit, get only the top 6 premium contributions. In this case, there’s Php 2,400.00 six times between April 2019 to March 2020. 

EDDCheck out the SSS 2019 Contribution to see how much is the Monthly Salary Credit for Php 2,400.00 average. In this case, Php 20,000.00, the highest.

SSS-Contribution Table

3. Multiply the Average Monthly Credit by 0.9. That’s 90% of the Average Salary Credit. At Php 20,000, that’s Php 20,000 x 0.9 = Php 18,000.

4. Multiply the Php 18,000 x 6 and divide it by 180.

In our example, Php 18,000 x 6 divided by 180 = Php 600.00 per day.

That’s the Sickness Benefit you will get per day sick, multiplied by number of days. If you’re sick for 14 days, multiply Php 600.00 x 14 days = Php 8,400.00 sickness benefit.

Do you have a convenient Sickness Benefit Calculator to share?

Yes, I’ve made a convenient Sickness Benefit Calculator for convenience — Simply input the data on the Yellow boxes and the calculator will compute the estimated SSS Sickness Benefit for you:

SSS Sickness CalculatorDownload here for Free Excel: FINAL SSS Sickness Benefit 080120 (Please use the PC for smoother access)

DISCLAIMER:  This online calculator is made available solely for the convenience of public. It follows the SSS schedule of contribution tables and is based on the author’s own interpretation. It provides calculations based on the information you provide. All data entered are not stored. It is suggested, however, to clear your browser cache after completing your transaction. Should you find any inaccuracy, or have suggestions to improve this calculator, please PM me.

But even without the sickness calculator, it’s so easy to calculate. Just follow the table below:

Sickness Computation

3. How will SSS pay out the SSS Sickness Benefit?

If you are paying your SSS voluntarily, SSS will directly deposit the approved SSS sickness benefit onto your bank account.

If you are employed, your employer will pay for the SSS sickness benefit via your payroll. “The payment of the daily sickness allowance is advanced by the employer every regular payday. The SSS will then reimburse the employer of the amount legally advanced upon receipt of satisfactory proof of such payment and legality thereof.”

passbook

Applications may be filed in any SSS branch that is most convenie​nt to employer.

4. How Many Days of Benefit Can You Claim?

The maximum number of sickness benefit is 120 years within a year ONLY. If you exceed 120 days, SSS will not cover. If you get sick in December, SSS will only cover 31 days of the year.

120 days

If the person’s sickness continues to the next year, they can still claim the next 120 days on the second year. However, they cannot exceed 240 days total for the same sickness.

5. Can you claim SSS Sickness Benefit if You’re an OFW and an SSS Contributing Member and you got sick? What happens if you got sick overseas?

Yes, if you’re an OFW and underwent home confinement, you can file your SBA form within the first 35-day period from the onset of your sickness to avail of the benefit.

ofw

If you got sick overseas, the documents must be in English and has either been certified by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate Office, or notarized abroad.

6. What is the Deadlines for Applying for SSS Sickness Benefit?

You can apply at the SSS Branch near you. Please take note the following deadlines when applying for SSS sickness benefit:

DeadlinesWARNING: Please take note of the tight deadlines!

run out of time

It is only when you are a voluntary paying member and home confined for sickness that you have a stricter deadline that you need to notify . If you were hospital confined, it’s still a year from your first day of sickness.

If you were late in your notification filing, the sickness benefit will only start no sooner than the five days you have informed SSS.

Example, Jane was home confined from July 1 to 31, 2020 (31 days). Jane should have filed between July 2 to 6 (5 days). Instead, she filed on July 8, 2020, a delay of 3 days. Hence, minus 5 days, even though she was sick from July 1, SSS will only count it from July 3, 2020. This means, only the sickness from July 3 to 31 (29 days) will be paid by the SSS.

If you are Employed

If you are employed, your employer will be the one to file for your SSS Sickness Benefit.

Filing of notification

If you are sick and has NOT been hospitalized, you have to notify the employer within five (5) calendar days after the start of sickness or injury. If an employee fails to notify their employer within 5 days, the SSS will only count the confinement five days before you notified them.

The employer, in turn, must notify the SSS of the confinement within (5) calendar days after receipt of the notification from the employee member.

IMPORTANT: If the ER fails to inform SSS within the five-day rule, then the employer will be reimbursed only for each day of confinement from the 10th calendar day before he notified SSS.

For example,  Karen was home confinement was from March 1 to March 31, 2020 (31 days).

  • Karen informed ER on March 5, 2020 (must be within March 2 to 6) — No delay
  • Company informed SSS late on March 15, 2020 (must be within March 7 to 11).
  • SSS should have paid for 31 days from March 1-31, 2020
  • But commensurable period is only 27 days, which SSS will reimburse to Company: March 5 to March 31, 2020 only (31 days applied by ER will be reduced to only 27 days for the ER’s reimbursement).

If the sick and non-hospital confined employee has given the required notification to the employer, but the company did NOT notify the SSS of the confinement within the prescribed period. This resulted to the reduction of the benefit or denial of the claim, and the ER shall have no right to recover the daily sickness allowance advanced to the EE.

Notification to the employer is not needed if the member’s confinement is in a hospital or if member got sick or was injured while working or while he was within the company premises. In this case, the employer has ten (10) calendar days from the start of the employee’s sickness or injury while he was working or while he was within the company premises to inform SSS.

While notification carries a strict deadline, the employer have the flexibility to have the SSS Sickness Benefit reimbursed within the ONE year of the start of sickness, which was paid for by the Employer to the employee.

To notify SSS in the time of COVID-19, here are the instructions:

COVID SSS

7. How to Apply for the SSS Sickness Benefit If You are A Voluntary Paying Member?

IMPORTANT: If you’re a voluntary member and was home confined, you must submit to SSS your Sickness Benefit Application Form (SBA Form) within YOUR FIRST 5 days of your sickness. If you’re hospital confined, deadline is 1 year.

Step 1: If you’re a Voluntary Member, please download and fill up this Sickness Benefit Application Form (SBA) HERE.

Make sure that you put N/A if the data is not applicable. Initial every part where there’s a correction:

Voluntary

Step 2: Make sure your attending physician carefully and properly fills up:

          a) Medical Certificate Form on the SSS Sickness Benefit Application Form, and
b) Your SSS Medical Certificate.

Medical Certificate

Here is the SSS Medical Certificate Form you need your physician to fill up. Attach this to the completed SBA Form:

SSS Medical Certificate Download: SSS Medical Certificate Form

If this is blank, your application will NOT be approved.

Step 3: Make sure you have opened a Bank Account in an SSS-accredited bank. SSS will directly deposit the SSS sickness benefit there.

You need to submit a photocopy of any of the following so SSS can ensure your bank account truly exists:

     a. ATM Card with account number
     b. Bank account passbook with your name
     c. Bank Certificate or Statement
     d. Deposit slip showing your savings account number

BDOPhoto Source: The Daily Mad Cat WordPress Blog

If you don’t have a bank account yet, SSS will provide you a Letter of Introduction (LOI) so you can open an account in their accredited bank. After you have a bank account, put the information here on the SBA Form:

Savings account

Step 4: Submit the form with the other supporting documents:

IMPORTANT: Make sure all the documents you submit have your Complete Name and SSS Number.

If you were hospitalized, you need to submit the following:

  • Original or Certified True Copy of the Discharge Summary or Clinical Abstract, AND
  • Any of the following: Laboratory, X-ray, ECG or any diagnostic result or
    • If operated, the Operating Room Record
    • If you’re using the SSS Medical Specialist, he/she may still ask you to provide additional documents as proof of sickness.

If your sickness happened while you were still employed, and yet you are currently separated from the employer, you need an additional a) Certificate of Separation from Employment where the date of separation is clear, stating that you have not received SSS Sickness Benefit from your employer, and b) the Employer’s L-501 Form. If you are self-employed, you do not need to provide this anymore.SSS SicknessDownload: Certificate of Non Advancement of SSS Sickness Benefit

This is what the L-501 Form looks like:L-501 FormImage Source: Specimen Signature Card (L-501 Form)

If your employer does not want to give you the above, you can alternately fill up, notarize and submit an Affidavit of Undertaking in either English, Tagalog or Visayas along with your other documents. This is what the Affidavit of Undertaking looks like:

Affidavit of Undertaking

IMPORTANT: Please have it notarized before submitting it to SSS. Notarization is not expensive. Some charge only Php 50. Make sure you print two copies, one for you and the other to the notary.

Step 5: Submit all of the above to SSS with a copy of your Primary ID or Two Primary IDs.

Valida-IDs-in-the-Philippines

Step 6: If your representative is applying for you, ask him to bring his valid ID and a Transmittal List:

Below is the SSS Transmittal List:

Individual Transmittal List

He/she must also bring his/her ONE Primary ID or two secondary ID Cards with signature and 

IDs

8. How to Apply for the SSS Sickness Benefit If You are Employed?

Step 1: Print and fill up the the Sickness Benefit Notification Form (Download HERE).

Bring this with you when you see your attending doctor so he/she can fill up the Medical Evaluation (Part V) on the second page. Submit this to the company with your Sickness Benefit Reimbursement Form:

This is what the Sickness Benefit Notification Form looks like:

Sickness benefit notification formPage 2

IMPORTANT: Make sure your attending physician fills up Part VI. Medical Evaluation of your Sickness Notification Form so you can file for reimbursement. 

medical evaluation

Step 2. Attach the Sickness Notification Form, and fill up and submit it to your employer with the Sickness Benefit Reimbursement Form, which looks like this:

Sickness benefit reimbursement formRemember, both the Sickness Notification Form and the Sickness Benefit Reimbursement Application must be ORIGINAL. If the data is not applicable, write N/A. All alterations should be initialed by the member or the company representative.

The Reimbursement requires the money to be advanced to you by your employer. Sign this if you have already been advanced.

Step 3 : If you were hospitalized, you also need to submit the following:

  1. Original or Certified True Copy of the Discharge Summary or Clinical Abstract, AND
  2. Any of the following: Laboratory, X-ray, ECG or any diagnostic result:
    • If operated, the Operating Room Record
    • If you’re using the SSS Medical Specialist, he/she may still ask you to provide additional documents as proof of sickness.

IMPORTANT: Make sure all the documents you submit have your Complete Name and SSS Number.

Step 4: Submit the above with your Valid ID.

Either a) One Primary ID (e.g., UMID, Passport, PRC ID or Seaman’s Book) or Two (2) Secondary ID one of which should have your photograph and signature:

SSS Secondary

9. What are the additional documents a company needs to provide if the SSS Sickness Benefit Claim is filed through Company Representative?

You need to submit the following documents:

  1. Letter of Auth​orization (LOA) issued by the employer’s authorized signatory reflected in the Employer Specimen Signature Card (SS Form L-501)
  2. Original company ID of company representative.
  3. System-generated Transmittal List (TL) or System-generated Acknowledgment Letter, if filed through Electronic Notification (three copies); or Employer TL (three copies)
  4. Member’s Sickness Notification Application
  5. Member’s identification card/s or document/s (photocopy)
  6. All attached medical documents and reports, if any – Make sure the applicant’s name and SSS number is written on each page.

This is what the Employer Transmittal List looks like:

Transmittal ListDownload: SSS Sickness Benefit Transmittal List HERE

10. What IDs Can You Use to Apply for SSS Sickness?

Valida-IDs-in-the-Philippines

Primary IDs include the following:

  • Philippine passport – Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Driver’s License – Land Transportation Office
  • SSS UMID Card – Social Security System
  • GSIS eCard – Government Services and Insurance Corporation
  • Digitized Postal ID – Philippine Postal Corporation
  • PRC ID – Professional Regulation Commission
  • IBP ID – Integrated Bar of the Philippines
  • OWWA ID – Overseas Worker’s Welfare Administration
  • Diplomat ID – Philippine Embassy
  • OFW ID – Department of Labor and Employment
  • Voter’s ID – Commission on Election
  • GOCC and Government Office ID – branch or agency of government (Example; PNP ID, AFP ID, DENR ID, DepED ID, etc.)

Here are the list of Secondary IDs:

  • TIN ID
  • GSIS ID
  • Voter’s ID or Affidavit or Registration
  • Postal ID *Primary for banking purposes
  • School ID
  • NSO Birth Certificate
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • NBI Clearance
  • Police Clearance
  • Barangay Clearance
  • Health Card/Medical Card
  • Fisherman’s Card (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic
  • Credit Card
  • OWWA ID (Overseas Workers Welfare Admnistration)
  • Bank Account Passbook
  • ATM Card with Cardholder’s Name
  • Senior Citizen ID
  • PhilHealth ID

FINAL NOTE: Best to Enlist to SSS

Please note the important thing about the SSS Sickness Benefit — You need to have enough hulogs to be covered.

Contingency Chart

What’s more, the hulogs must not be done retroactively so that one can receive the benefit. The contributions must be paid on time.

No SSS contributions that are paid RETROACTIVELY (or pahabol) based on the deadline will be included in determining your eligibility for the maternity benefit. This is most important when the contingency date of payment is within or after the semester of contingency.

SOURCE: SSS Corporate Communications Department, July 2019

I hope that by seeing all the benefits that SSS can provide, Filipinos will be more vigilant in paying their SSS contributions on time, and take advantage of many of the benefits offered by the SSS:

Have a wonderful MECQ week ahead!

Disclaimer

Posted in Business, covid-19, entrepreneurship, health, Human Resources (HR), leadership, money, Money Issues, Philippines, Question & Answer, Updates, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HR Talk: What to Do When A Worker is Positive? Where to Get Swab Tested?

If you have a suspected positive case, you need a confirmatory RT-PCR to see if he’s positive or not.

Reiterating, here’s the DOLE and DTI Health Guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19:

COVID

The rapid test and swab test should be at company’s expense. Based on Labor Advisory No. 18, Series of 2020, bawal po i-charge ng company ang tests sa staff:

test cost

If the staff is under an agency, it is the PRINCIPAL who will pay for the cost of the testing, should they decide to do so.

Following this, here is our Company Policy:

  1. Employees with a fever of 37.5 degrees C and above is considered a suspected COVID-19 carrier. He will undergo rapid test. If he is negative, pagaling muna sa bahay.
  2. The staff with a positive rapid test will take a confirmatory COVID-19 RT-PCR test. It will be the company who will book the appointment but it is the staff who is responsible to go to the clinic themselves. If the person is at the office, we will bring him/her to clinic, complete with PPE. Both rapid test and RT-PCR are employer’s expense.
  3. While waiting for the results, all staff who was exposed to the suspected COVID-19 patient are placed in home quarantine. I have written about home quarantine in my previous article, 10 Questions Answered on the Rising Cases of COVID-19.
  4. The office will be disinfected with bleach solution (Click here for CDC Instructions) and UV lighted to kill bacteria and germs. Work can resume in 24 hours if another cluster is available.
  5. IMPORTANT: There are many UV light options from Lazada/Shopee. Many of them are reasonably priced. Be careful of fake UV lights. Never buy wands or portable UV lights. The UV light that is effective is the one that requires you to be OUTSIDE the room when you operate them. They should harm the skin, and hurt your eyes if you stare at them for a few seconds. If you’re using them on your babies’ skin or while your baby is in the room, they are not real UV. 
  6. UV Light
  7. Beware of fake UV lights. Always do your due diligence when using UV. If you’re using them on your skin, they are not effective UVs:
  8. UV light danger
    Source: World Health Organization
  9.  If the swab test result turns out negative, then everyone — including the suspected worker — returns back to work.
  10. If the staff who is tested positive, it will be the hospital and clinic who will immediately notify the confirmed case to the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) or City Health Officer (CHO) for verification and initial investigation. The MHO/CHO shall then report to the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) using the Event-Based Surveillance System (ESR) system of the Epidemiology Bureau (EB) of DOH.
  11. We will report to the barangays where the work location and the residence of the worker is located so that they can ensure that the staff and his/her family are following home quarantine rules. We will monitor the temperature and symptoms every day in the morning to see if there’s any improvement.

For Guidelines on Recovery, we follow the DOH’s Advice:

In short, wait for 14 days for the staff to finish home quarantine. That’s about it.

Interestingly, the staff is NOT required to be tested again to be cleared of COVID-19 after 14 days of quarantine:

A lot of companies need a certification that a person is negative of COVID-19 before he is allowed to come back to work. However, DOH is telling us we don’t need to re-test the staff of COVID-19 nor do we need to require him to have a Negative COVID-19 Certification to return to work:

DOH 5

Why?

Because COVID-19 is most contagious from the first day of symptoms up to the seventh day. By the 7th day of sickness, its contagiousness drops significantly. By the 10th day or more, it’s no longer contagious!

DOH 7

Since the government requirement is quarantine for 14 days, people who finish this period of quarantine is no longer contagious:

DOH 8

Since they already have antibodies in their bodies, they will test POSITIVE for the virus especially with the rapid test. However, they are no longer contagious. Hence, there is no need for them to be tested again:

DOH 9

That’s good news, I guess?

Anyway, here’s my research on places you can get swabbed:

Prices range from Php 4,000 to Php 13,000. Speed of results vary, so while the person is waiting for his results, everyone with him that day is in home quarantine, no work no pay:

RTPCRDownloadable Excel: List of Hospitals for Swab Test

RT

RED CROSS PHILIPPINES (Php 4,000.00 for Swab Test) is the cheapest, but you need to pre book an appointment

Address: 37 Edsa Corner Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 1550
(Along the Edsa, in front of Robinson Forum)

Red Cross

Need to schedule first, call 1158 for schedule. There is no walk-ins available.

Once paid email the proof of payment to prccovidtest@redcross.org.ph

Subject: Reference #, Patient Lab Location, indicate the picture of deposit slip.

Result was given thru email. 5-7 days for the result.

Earliest schedule August 1, 2020 (9:00 am) and August 2, 2020 (9:00 am and 10:00 am)

To Pay, Bank account details:

  • BDO: Account name: PHILIPPINE RED CROSS (Account #: 004530190938)
  • METROBANK: Account name: PHILIPPINE RED CROSS (Account #: 1517151524342)

The cheapest swab I received was Php 2,100, but I can’t contact the clinic yet. It is allegedly in Las Pinas:

SDDI

In short, RT-PCR tests are expensive and requires at least a 3 to 14 day waiting time depending on you get it. By the time you get your results, it may be too late. You’ve already infected those you should have infected. Which is why it’s important to act as if EVERYONE is positive, and make sure you always wear your face masks, wash your hands, disinfect the stuff that’s always touched in the office, and practice social distancing.

General Prevention masks 04.07.20

Any swab that’s free?

Yes, two ways: If you report it to the local barangay, or if you go to MOA Arena.

The MOA Arena facility is one of four ‘mega swabbing’ centers the government had set up in line with its ‘Test, Trace and Treat’ strategy. The other three are the Enderun Tent in Taguig City, the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan, and the Palacio de Maynila in Roxas Boulevard, Manila, which started operating on May 7.

Here’s the bad news, the free swab test at MOA Arena has been suspended since July 27 until further notice.

SUSPEND

MOA

So the only recourse is to report the staff to their local barangay and get them swabbed there for free.

Depending on the barangay, some offer free swab test. I called up the staff’s barangay and they offer free swab testing. Kasama pa ang hatid sundo from house to clinic and back to the house. Then the barangay guards the house to ensure quarantine is followed.

The result comes out in 7-14 days at most.

For example, in Barangay Sta. Lucia in Caloocan, here are the numbers to contact. You can find the Barangay details on Facebook:

Barangay

Brgy 2

Final Words

At over 80,000 confirmed cases, Metro Manila is now a hotzone for COVID-19. Everyone I know already has a neighbor, friend, co-worker or acquaintance who is COVID-19 positive. It’s so ubiquitous that it’s now “meh.” 

I hope that the government makes the right decision and end this pandemic once and for all. As I’ve mentioned, I’m in favor of one last ECQ just to ensure everyone stays at home and does city-wide quarantines.

PHILIPPINES-HEALTH-VIRUS

A resident rides her bicycle past armed soldiers along a street in Navotas in suburban Manila on July 16, 2020, after the local government reimposed a lockdown in the city due to increased COVID-19 infections. – Philippine police were being deployed to ensure people who test positive for the coronavirus and cannot self-isolate at home are taken to state-run quarantine centres, sparking warnings of potential rights violations. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

No more incoming or outgoing flights.

No more balik provincia that infects the rest of the Philippines.

Everyone stays put one last time.

And we finish this.

There’s no point in doing the GCQ and everyone’s afraid of coming out. People are getting infected of COVID-19 left and right, dropping out of work like flies. Everyone quarantining at their own pace pero hindi pa sabay sabay.

If we ECQ, the numbers WILL go down. We can beat this so long as nobody’s coming or going. COVID-19 is like that bad boyfriend that never seems to go away. You gotta rip off the band-aid to stop the pain once and for all.

But I’m not the President.  And I hope that his wise counsel will advise him of the right thing to do. Let’s go team!

As always, stay calm, pray hard and let’s weather the storm. Have a good week everyone!

 

Posted in Business, covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, health, How to Manage People, Human Resources (HR), Philippines, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Questions Answered on the Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases and How We Are Approaching It

I’m sorry for not posting as much as I should. To give you an update, a lot of friends and relatives are testing positive for COVID-19  this week, and has been confirmed with RT-PCR. So I have been very busy helping them lead through what may seem like a tumultuous period in their mind.

For some, being tested positive for COVID-19 is similar to having a death sentence. A relative became depressed and started reflecting about his life and what-should-I-have done-if-only-I-knew. After 2 days, the swab result revealed he was negative despite testing positive twice for COVID-19 in a rapid test.

A friend had a factory whose manager dropped dead of COVID-19 like symptoms last Sunday. When they did the swab test, 70-80% of the tested were positive. They were all asymptomatic. Nobody knew they were positive, and many had become carriers without knowing it. The factory is shut down for the next two weeks.

As the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise, it is becoming more real that companies are prepared for the possibility that someone in their workforce will test positive. Here are my notes on my talk to my own employees, making sure they get the correct news from me and not just on social media:

  1. How do we get COVID-19?
  2. What are the common COVID-19 symptoms?
  3. Is it usual to get COVID-19 from an asymptomatic carrier?
  4. Why should we panic? Who should we NOT panic?
  5. What happens when one worker in the company tests positive of COVID-19 via rapid test?
  6. Are the days on home quarantine paid? 
  7. What does it mean when you do home quarantine?
  8. Are there any vaccines available for COVID-19?
  9. What is my personal opinion about the situation as of July 25, 2020?
  10. If there’s a lot of COVID-19 positive people running around, why are we still open? What are we waiting for? 

10 Questions Answered on the Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases and How We Are Approaching It

I have already talked to my staff regarding the rising cases of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. The main point of the message is, “This is it. COVID-19 is here, and here’s how we should approach it.”

casesSource: Department of Health

A lot of what I said were merely reiterations of the message I gave pre-GCQ. However, people were afraid and needed some reassurance. I thought staying truthful is better. So I talked to my staff matter-of-factly without any fluff. So at least they know what’s coming and what they will expect in the next coming days:

1. Again, how do we get COVID-19?

COVID-19 is contracted by DIRECT CONTACT to a COVID-19 positive patient, be it they are with or without symptoms via:

  • Provide direct care of a COVID-19 positive person without proper PPE. This is a reason why so many healthcare workers get COVID-19.
  • Face-to-face contact with a confirmed case within 1 meter and for more than15 minutes
  • Direct physical contact with a confirmed case

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). These droplets are then inhaled by another person. It does not transfer via touching of feces. This is why COVID-19 transmission usually occurs among close contacts — including family members and healthcare workers. It is therefore important to maintain a distance of more than 1 meter away from any person who has respiratory symptoms.

COVID-19-Mask-Family-777x518

This is a reason why we have to wear face masks, face shields, wash hands and maintain social distancing. The chances are bigger we contracted COVID-19 from someone we know, due to prolonged exposure, than a stranger.

2. What are the common COVID-19 symptoms?

covid-cold-flu-symptoms-bd24a5Source: Health Direct

  • Most common symptoms: Fever, Dry cough, Tiredness. This is why temperature is taken before a person is admitted to work. Temperature of 37.5° C
  • Less serious symptoms: Sore throat, body pains, headache, fever, flu-like symptoms (cough, cold, body malaise, fatigue), diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell, Conjunctivitis (or pink eye)
  • Serious symptoms: Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, Chest pain or pressure, Loss of speech or movement

On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms. People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home.

Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. These are what we call as asymptomatic carriers. 

Source; Inquirer

Older people and those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are most likely to develop severe or critical form of COVID-19.

3. Is it usual to get COVID-19 from an asymptomatic carrier?

The risk of getting COVID-19 from a person without any signs and symptoms is very low.

carrier

Remember, COVID-19 is only spread through respiratory droplets coughed by an infected person. Therefore, if an infected person does not cough, he/she most likely will not infect others. However, many infected persons only experience mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to get COVID-19 from an infected person with mild cough but is not feeling ill.

4. Why should we panic? Who should we NOT panic?

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

For the majority – especially for children and young adults – illness due to COVID-19 is generally minor. So far, as if July 24, 1,871 or 2.51% of the confirmed cases has died of COVID-19 out of 74,390 confirmed in the Philippines.

Total Coronavirusdeaths

Source: Worldometer, July 2020

This is in line of the death rate projections of the WHO — COVID-19 could be fatal, but this happens rarely. According to WHO, 82% of infected patients will have mild presentations, 15% will have severe manifestations, and only 3% will be critical. As mentioned before, older people, people with compromised immune systems, and people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are more prone to fall severely ill with the virus. Around 2% of people infected with the disease have died.

In short, there will be people who will die. But a lot who will not. This is both good and bad news, whichever way you look at it.

5. What happens when one worker in the company tests positive of COVID-19 via rapid test?

We base our actions on the DOLE and DTI Health Guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19 — that person must be isolated and brought to the nearest hospital/clinic for Swab Testing

COVID

This is our Company Policy:

  1. The staff with a positive rapid test will take a confirmatory COVID-19 RT-PCR test. It will be the company who will book the appointment but it is the staff who is responsible to go to the clinic themselves. If the person is at the office, we will bring him/her to clinic, complete with PPE.
  2. While waiting for the results, all staff who was exposed to the suspected COVID-19 patient are placed in home quarantine.
  3. The office will be disinfected and UV lighted to kill bacteria and germs. Work can resume in 24 hours if another cluster is available.
  4.  If the swab test result turns out negative, then everyone comes back to work.
  5. For the staff who is tested positive, it will be the hospital and clinic who will immediately notify the confirmed case to the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) or City Health Officer (CHO) for verification and initial investigation. The MHO/CHO shall then report to the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) using the Event-Based Surveillance System (ESR) system of the Epidemiology Bureau (EB) of DOH. If needed, we will report to the barangays where the work location and the residence of the worker is located.
  6. Please be mindful on the health coverage an employee will get — There is the SSS Sickness Benefit, EC Coverage and Philhealth Coverage:Philhealth

6. Are the days on home quarantine paid? 

No, they are unpaid as per Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020:

Labor Advisory No. 4

Anything that is given to the staff is gracia. So it’s better to be careful.

7. What does it mean when you do home quarantine?

For goodness sakes, home quarantine does NOT mean you should go out and chismis with your neighbors!

A Filipino worker I know rebonded her hair at a local salon while experiencing flu-like symptoms. Another worker I know celebrated her father’s birthday in the company of close relatives. This is how the Philippines confirmed cases go up to 70,000:

home celebration

Home quarantine means being locked up in a room with NO CLOSE CONTACT with anybody. Food is provided outside the room. Here’s what the Houston Methodist recommends:

a. Separate yourself from the people and pets you share your home with

If possible, stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom — especially if someone you live with is higher risk for severe illness.

If you’re living with someone who has COVID-19, make sure you know how to share a home with someone who’s sick — without getting sick yourself.

b. Wash your hands often

Practicing proper hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. In addition, avoid touching your face.

Woman washing her hands at the kitchen sink.

c. Don’t share your stuff

Avoid sharing the following items with people or animals in your home:

  • Bedding
  • Dishes, drinking glasses and utensils
  • Towels, including hand towels in the kitchen and bathroom

d. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces every day

Early evidence shows that the new coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours or even days in some cases.

At least once per day, be sure to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces around your home, including:

  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Counters
  • Door knobs
  • Keyboards
  • Phones

To disinfect surfaces, you can use common household cleaner or a diluted bleach solution.

e. Monitor your symptoms

Twice a day, take your temperature to check for a fever. Also, take note if you’re beginning to cough or experiencing shortness of breath.

You may or may not experience COVID-19 symptoms (coughing, fever and shortness of breath) during your quarantine. If you do begin experiencing symptoms:

  • Wear a cloth face mask when you’re around people or using common spaces in your home
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes and immediately wash your hands afterward
  • Contact your health care provider or use telemedicine to seek guidance from home

8. Are there any vaccines available for COVID-19?

Unfortunately, there is none. Hence, it is mostly our body’s immune system who will battle the virus. So it is just a battle of treating symptoms as they come through. Supportive care for infected persons is highly effective. Most of those infected have recovered with only supportive care.

There is news about this Chinese herbal medicine called Lianhua Qingwen, which is a Chinese herbal medicine. However, while widely used in China, the Philippine FDA has not yet approved the drug for the general public as of May 6:

lianhua

However, a lot of people were saying that for early symptom stages, Lianhua offers relief. To use, people were saying that:

IMPORTANT: Since this is not yet FDA approved, please do not attempt to buy or use this drug. Let us wait for the FDA to approve it before taking any pill to combat COVID-19.

9. What is my personal opinion on this COVID-19 pandemic, as of July 25, 2020?

COVID-19 is here especially in the Metro Manila. Regardless on what the rapid test say, everyone is a suspected COVID-19 positive patient already. If you’re not a carrier, chances are, a neighbor, friend or relative is, putting you at risk. There is no escaping COVID-19 now.

Coronavirus-Manila-MRT_6_CNNPH

Fear is our worst enemy. It makes us mentally depressed, anxious and upset. Depression cannot heal COVID-19. It will not bring us back from the dead. Hence, the best way to handle COVID-19 is to assume everyone is positive, and take special care. Now is the chance to settle your debts, assume the worst, and hope for the best.

To be fair, the Philippines has a lower death rate versus other countries. Mahirap talagang mamatay ang Filipino. Malakas ang resistensya. However, loved ones are also at the risk of dying, so we will never know. If it hits you, it takes less than a week for the first symptoms to strike till death, so you will never know.

Do not go to rallies and please practice social distancing.

ABS

Now is NOT the time to protest in a group. Do so in social media. Give interviews. But please, stop with this: It is not just you who will be affected but your loved ones too. If you became a carrier as a result of such irresponsibility and one of your senior loved ones are killed, how can you ever forgive yourself?

ABS2

Do not panic — If you become COVID-19 positive, self-isolate and do home quarantine for 14 days.

If you have serious symptoms, go and find professional medical help. Most hospitals are full — including PGH — so unless you require serious help, stay at home and stop infecting others. Asymptomatic or not, you should be responsible for others. And for goodness sakes, stop lying on your Health Interview Questionnaire form!!!

The economy is dying but if we do not curb now and declare ECQ or MECQ, more Filipinos will get infected. All of these people who are itching to go back to their provinces are potential carriers as well. This is not about being humane but actually thinking of the benefits of the rest of the Philippines. Just feed them and have them stay put. Otherwise, there will be more provincianos who will be infected.

stadium

I highly suggest doing one last lockdown. Get it over and done with.

Instead of paying for all the tests in Metro Manila, assume everyone is sick. Let everyone stay home, home quarantine and remove those with serious cases and put them in quarantine facilities. Every free test and PPE the government uses will be eventually be paid by the Filipino. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

no free

It is better to lockdown the pandemic epicenter and just spend the money on relief goods and support of the citizens than to test everyone. We have passed the point of controlling the pandemic. It’s here and active. The best way is to stop it from spreading to the rest of the Philippines.

The more people infected, the fuller our healthcare facilities become. The more worrying it becomes to be a doctor or a nurse. Many hospitals are full. PGH has reached capacity. Let us not burden our doctors and nurse by being irresponsible.

Calm down. We stay safe, work and wait for the President’s call to shut down the city again. Yes, I’m all for saving the economy but let’s get this over and done with. The economy will survive, but it will not survive if the numbers keep on rising this way.

10. If there’s a lot of COVID-19 positive people running around, why is our business still open? What are we waiting for? 

We are waiting for the declaration of ECQ or MECQ before closing down:

Metro Manila without traffic during COVID-19 lockdown

Roxas Boulevard on Thursday, March 18. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Our company is following the DOLE and DTI Health Guidelines for the Prevention of the Spread of COVID-19. None of our staff is a suspected COVID-19 positive worker. So far, despite the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases, we has escaped this fate.

However, it will just be a matter of time — eventually, despite our best efforts, one of us will be positive and we will shut down.

covid

That’s why, what we are doing is working until that time. Earn a living. Go to work to ensure that there is salary. So that when we shut down, we no longer have to depend on any government ayuda. We have at least one cut off to feed our families. So compared to others, we will have more — not enough of course, but enough to feed the family.

While we can work, we work. And then when we are asked to rest, we rest. 

Nobody wants a holdout.

People get what they earn. We work until we are asked to stop to work, which will happen. Show that we work and when the time comes to rest, believe na hindi naman kayo papabayaan ng company. If pabaya kayo ngayon, management will remember. If hindi kayo pabaya, bakit naman kayo papabayaan?

Let’s do our part and let God take care of the rest. So when the time the lockdown comes, we rest. And we spend our time again with our families. We did what we could, and bahala na si God.

popcom

Choose to stay calm. Choose not to let fear rule our steps. And for goodness sakes, wear your mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.

Disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Business, covid-19, Current Events, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, leadership, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

3rd E-Series of Create. Modern Taoke: Richwell Global, Joy Nostalg and Ever Bilena

Last July 24, Globe myBusiness in cooperation with CHiNOY TV organized this wonderful talk featuring four entrepreneurs in three distinct businesses:

TaokeHosted by Ms. Valerie Tan, this Modern Taoke episode featured the following entrepreneurs:

          1. Ms. Myrna Yao of Rich Fund Global

Taoke group  Group

          2. Mr. Jacinto Ng Jr., Owner of the Joy Nostalg Hotel, whose family operates a powerplant in Ilo-Ilo, Bukidnon and another city. They also do low-cost and socialized housing.

3. Mr. Dioceldo Sy, President and CEO, and Ms. Denice Sy Munez, Head of Marketing, Ever Bilena

Myrna Yao, Richprime Global President and CEO

Mrs. Yao has been in the business for over 30 years, handling over 40 brands including Barbie, Fisher Price, HotWheels, VTech Toys, Fisher Price, Thomas & Friends, and UNO.

richprime

Started her own business after her conservative father gave their family business to the son, her brother. Given the family hierarchy, Ms. Yao had to turn over the business to the brother after he graduated. However, because of this, Ms. Yao had to start her own business, which grew to be very successful. Now, her business is now being turned over to her daughters and her grandchildren — no more discrimination against females!

Training of her daughters to do business started when they were young. When they were 10 years old, Ms. Yao brought them on business trips. She told them, “Always look deeper in everything that you see so that you can be creative. You don’t accept just what you see. You think beyond.”

out of the box

In other words, “Think out of the box.”

Due to COVID-19, sales has been down 50%. It’s still better than expecting as Ms. Myrna has projected sales of only 30%.

Myrna

People are still buying toys. Floatables sold well over the summer. The only ones affected are the shoes since children cannot go out. They were able to expand the online business. Her daughter Laiza is focusing on internet sales. So this COVID-19 gave them the opportunity to pivot.

Innovations during the Pandemic

The last few months were a time to strengthen the company’s online and Facebook marketing arms. Traditionally, the company predominantly promoted their products via TV and events. Now, online is becoming 70% of the marketing budget. This is not really a bad thing as Ms. Myrna sees online as being the future. So COVID-19 was able to give an opportunity for them to develop their online footprint.

Biggest takeaway in managing a family business

You can’t remove work from Ms. Myrna’s DNA. Before COVID-19, she reflected on whether she should retire or not. However, she found herself still going to the office 3x a week. But on her spare time, she has promised herself that she will devote some time to doing agriculture in a piece of land in Bulacan. While they do have some pockets of land in Bicol, her land in Bulacan is more convenient to develop.

Yao

The key thing is that a business should know how to innovate and be ahead of the competitors. 50% of the business come from the toys, 10% of which is baby products. As the captain of the ship, Ms. Myrna want new things every year, as this is one catalyst for the business to grow. Richwell tries to be innovative all the time. They cannot go through what they did like last year and any other year. They need to be way ahead of the market.

Even when building things away from online, the business always has to look for opportunity. Even in digital world, the company needs to find something that’s not there, and be ahead of the game. Even with retail, managers must seek to make the most of every opportunity.

Mr. Jacinto Ng Jr., Joy-Nostalg CEO

Mr. Jacinto Jr. worked with his father for 15 years while in a partnership with other people. However, after seeing that the industry and the company was slowing down, the father talked to the son and prodded him to start a business of their own, just the two of them. With the guidance of his father, Mr. Jacinto was able to chart the course of the company.

Jacinto

The entrepreneur talked about the pros and cons of following your parents’ footsteps, or doing your own.

“Continuing your parents’ business is a way of honoring them,” he respectfully said. “It’s a way of honoring people who have helped you build the business and raised you as a child and your family. Even if the revenues go down, you have networks of suppliers, banks and professionals who depend on your reputation for you to go on.”

Mr. Jacinto recommended only following your path if you have talents. In a way, a business of your own is a way of diversifying a family business. So if in case one business falls, another business is still there to survive.

This advice is most critical as the family is in the hotel business, and hotels, travel and leisure are the industries most affected from COVID-19. As early as January 2020, the team already had their health and safety protocols are set. It was scary because people were dying as early as January 2020. In the beginning, it did not feel it was a pandemic. But when China shutdown Wuhan and some Chinese cities, the Joy-Nostalg team took the cue from there, they knew that the traveling be severely impacted in the next coming months.

Despite the challenges they have right now, the business is still designing ways to redesign and pivot. It is a relief that they believe that traveling will still be around. Even when it’s restricted, you can’t remove traveling from people’s bucket list. Hotels and restaurants will still exist, even if it’s in another form. They just need to pivot and adjust short-term wise to survive until a vaccine is found.

Joy

Currently, they are focused on transferring the knowledge to all their people. To understand what this disease is all about and to protect each other better. They have Viber communities so they can communicate to their staff properly.

So far, work has resumed since mid-May. There were a lot of pending house turnovers, so when they started working, they also invested in testing. They tested their workers every 2 weeks. All guests were rapid tested. If anyone was positive, they have to take a confirmatory RT-PCR test. This ensures that the site is “clean.” They are also refurbishing their office to accommodate the people to work at fuller capacity but still maintaining the distancing.

Coming Up With New Ways to Navigate the Crisis

Internet-wise, they have increased their client engagement online. They have made “online tripping” possible, where someone from their team is showing off the subdivisions online. There’s online payments.

Since a lot of their customers were in the marginalized low-income market with lower resources to travel, they built up their own logistics service and called it, “Joy Joy Move.” Through their own logistics service, they can get the documents back and forth easily. They need these documents to properly file a loan with Pag-Ibig.

Wearing PPEs, their people at Joy Joy Move will bring the contracts and documents to customers. They can have the customers fill up on the spot and bring the documents timely back to the office.

Everyone knows how to chat via Messenger. So another low-tech innovation was to pay for their customer’s communication. The business bought loads for the customer so they have the Internet to transact with the company so the transactions will push through.

To start a business, important things to consider…

You need to understand the market, competition and have a unique advantage on how to compete. That should be very basic and cannot be overstated.

Beyond that, it’s important that you can define the business mission — what the business is all about.  If the business cannot state its mission, the business may be short lived. it is the mission that determines the business’ relevance.

If you want to start and sustain a business, you must identify what the mission is all about. One of the favorite examples is a business selling candles who went out of business once light bulbs were created. However, when you think about candles, the product is actually light. When you realize your mission, you can easily pivot.

The company also views their people as their partners. If you’re having a hard time, then they’re also having a harder time. If your people are giving their all, you can come up with better strategies and execute them better. So you need to look at your people as partners.

Ms. Dioceldo Sy and Ms. Denice Sy Munez, Ever Bilena

Ever Bilena started in 1983, around the time Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. With a lot of businessmen ran away to safety, Mr. Dioceldo stayed behind and built Ever Bilena. It is because of this courage and grit that enabled them to build the makeup company they know today.

Doiceldo Denice

After graduating in 2014, daughter Denice started as a key accounts supervisor handling their chain of convenience stores. She was then promoted to handle supermarket, drugstores, and Watsons. From then on, Denice got involved in marketing and product development. Denice has been actively pushing online to the company, and has quite successful with it:

ever

Sir Dioceldo admitted that this pandemic had no precedent. However, the effect is huge both locally and globally. This is a different scenario vs. the previous crisis the world has experienced. Hence, we have to throw away what’s normal in managing business operations.

When they restarted in mid-May, they have to start from scratch again. Mr. Dioceldo and Ms. Denice have to check the situation and adapt to the current situation. Every time a new government came out, everyone had to adjust.

Innovations amidst the Pandemic

In the midst of pandemic, Denice did field work. Throughout this pandemic, they’ve pivoted to work on new channels — adding direct selling and online networking channel to their retail channel. Online selling is their contingency in case traffic in retail don’t recover soon.

Online platform is totally new to Ever Bilena. It took Denice two weeks to convince her father to focus on the online business. However, after launching, it has had an impressive result.

As Head of Marketing, Denice knows that you need to aggressively convince customers to buy despite lower spending power. Offering boosters is common. Boosters are small promotions to entice dealers to buy more.

For retail, while mark down is discouraged, they added value by bundling products together. This ensures they can push more products and offer clients better value.

bundle

For online selling, Ever Bilena has created a lot of different products include cheap masks. While other retail stores are closing, Ever Bilena is motivated to develop new products at this time to grab market share. On retail stores, they offered acetate swatches to prevent COVID-19 infection

Denice admits that the road to working with her father is not always smooth. It took her 2 weeks of discussion to convince her father to focus on online marketing.

It’s okay to have disagreements as long as your heart is genuinely for the company,” Denice shared. “We talk about work every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since we live together, we talk about work 24/7.”

Since Denice is a workaholic, she finds it fun to brainstorm and generate more data with her father/boss. The process of arguing helps her hone her business idea further, and makes her more bought into her ideas. To convince management, she needs to ensure her presentations are data driven and factual.

The senior Sy admitted, “Always trust in God. I thought when I hit 60, I thought I would work less. But now, I work more, grabbing opportunities when they knock on their door. There’s projects in Guam. The building in Ayala in the Arca South Building, the first earthquake proof in building. So it keeps me very busy.”

While the father and daughter argue at times, once outside the boardroom, the idea they agreed on must be fully supported by everyone.  This helps Denice on her toes and challenged as she continues to help her dad in the family business.

Posted in Business, Dad's Advice, Education, entrepreneurship, Family Drama, Filipino Men/Women, Interview Chronicles, marketing, Work | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

HR Talk: 22 Most Common Questions Asked by Employees in GCQ Answered

It’s been a month since we returned to work and things are returning back to normal except for the COVID-19 confirmed cases rising on a daily basis, at the very least, deaths are kept steady, which is still a good thing.

The HR world is still full of uncertainty as companies retrench large group of workers and businesses are closing down due to large losses due to the 2.5 months of no income as a result of ECQ. Last June 2020, the PSA announced that 7.3 million workers have lost their jobs. I feel that this number is higher now in July as more companies prepare for a recession come 2nd half of 2020.

69000

I have already done this exercise last May but given the many changes that’s happening over the last few weeks, I’m updating this post again with the latest advisories.

Because of this, I’ve decided to just collate all the most common questions and answers for everybody’s benefit.

22 MOST COMMON HR QUESTIONS EMPLOYEES ASK DURING GCQ ANSWERED

1. Now that there’s more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines are private companies mandated to pay Hazard Pay

2. I have worked for my Employer for more than 10 years. But I need to resign for my health. Do I get separation pay?

3. Who are the Only Employees qualified for Separation Pay?

4. Can a Company Fire Employees During ECQ or GCQ?

5. Does a Company Need to Report All Employees Who Departed to DOLE?

6. Patay! The Company has not Reported to DOLE? Papaano na?!

7. How Soon Can You Rehire After a Retrenchment or Redundancy?

8. There’s Too Many COVID-Cases Nowadays. Takot Ako for my Life. Can I Not Report To Work?

9. Transportation is inconvenient. Can I Not Report Because There’s No Public Transportation Available?

10. My Employer is asking Me to Give Them a Negative COVID-19 Test Result before I am Asked to Report. Who will Pay for It?

11. Is COVID-19 Testing Mandatory?

12. We have a Staff who Refused to Undergo the COVID-19 Test? Babayaran na namin, tapos, ayaw pa? What Should We Do?

13. Oh NO! One of Our Staff Tested Positive in Rapid Test. What Do We Do?!

14. Will the Company pay for the 14-day Home Quarantine if due to COVID-19?

15. If I am positive of COVID-19, what is the Company Liable for?

16. I am Pregnant or a Senior Citizen, and I was Placed in Floating Status. Is this Legal? 

17. Is the Employer Not Obliged to Give Employees Work From Home (WFH) Opportunities?

18. Wait, is Floating Status Even Legal?

19. Can an Employee Find New Work When Placed in Temporary Lay-Off/Floating Status?

20. What Happens if my Employer Cannot Return Me to Work After the 6 Months (for Direct), or 3 Months (for Agency Hired Workers)?

21. How do I Compute for my Separation/Retrenchment/Retirement Pay Again?

22. Can an Employer Reduce my Wages and Benefits?

BONUS QUESTION: Do I Have to Return the SBWS Ayuda if I Resigned in GCQ?

22 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED BY EMPLOYEES DURING GCQ ANSWERED

1. Now that there’s more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, are private companies mandated to pay Hazard Pay?

No, Private Employers are NOT mandated to pay Hazard Pay. If they did pay you a Hazard Pay to come into ECQ to report, then they can remove it at any time because this pay is a management prerogative and not prescribed by law.

The only mandated hazard pay was for those Government personnel reporting for work during the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period. Only those who report to work can avail, and there’s no instruction yet whether this Hazard Pay is continued beyond the ECQ.

COVID-19-Hazard-Pay-Guidelines

2. I have worked for my Employer for more than 10 years. But I need to resign for my health. Do I get separation pay?

It does not matter how many years you’ve worked for your employer. It can be 1 year to 25 years. However, if you voluntarily resigned, your Employer DOES NOT NEED to give you a separation pay, regardless on how many years of your tenure. 

Here are the people employers do NOT need to give Separation Pay:

  • End of Contract Employees, regardless of Contractual, Fixed Term or Project Based
  • Probationary Employees who did not pass the standards for regularization
  • Employees who resigned from their work, regardless of tenure
  • Employees who were terminated for Just Causes:

Just CausesSource: Department of Labor and Employment, October 2017

The only exception is except the Separation Pay is stipulated in your employment contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement or based on established employer practice in the company.

IMPORTANT: If you are terminated for the above-mentioned reasons — end of contract, probationary, Just Causes, or resigned — you are NOT qualified for the SSS Involuntary Unemployment Benefit. So please do not pester your HR for a Certificate of Termination for Authorized Causes. You can however, ask for a Certificate of Employment (COE). 

3. Who are the Only Employees qualified for Separation Pay?

IMG_3965

These are the only people who are Qualified for Separation Pay:

Reasons

In other words, you have been terminated due to AUTHORIZED CAUSES, which is not the Employee’s Fault. These are as follows:

Authorized

If you are one of those who were terminated due to Authorized Causes, here’s an Excel I’ve made to help you compute how much you will get if you got Retrenched, Retired or Redundant. It’s in Excel so is not Mobile Friendly. Please use your desktop to access.

Retirement Pay Calculator

Download the Excel Here: Final Retirement Pay Calculator (TinainManila.com)

DISCLAIMER:  This online calculator is made available solely for the convenience of public. It follows the SSS schedule of contribution tables and is based on the author’s own interpretation. It provides calculations based on the information you provide. All data entered are not stored. It is suggested, however, to clear your browser cache after completing your transaction.

You can also avail of the SSS Involuntary Unemployment Benefits if you are terminated for Authorized Cause. You can read up on how to apply for it here.:

SSS Unemployment

4. Can a Company Fire Employees During ECQ or GCQ?

Yes — The Company can terminate any employee at ANY TIME so long as the Company follows Due Process. I have written about it extensively last May, HR TALK: “I was terminated during ECQ! What now?!” and 11 Other Questions Answered About Getting Fired in the Philippines

retrenchment-1200x600

Emerhub has probably the clearest infographics on how to properly terminate an Employee:

How to terminateSource: Emerhub

For Just Causes, you have to follow the Twin Notice Rule as above. The Final Pay should be given within 30 days after successful company clearance as stated in Labor Advisory No. 6, Series of 2020.

Twin Notice RuleSource: Roi Xcel, Slideshare

For Authorized Causes, all you have to do is provide DOLE and the Staff a Notice of Dismissal 30 Days before Termination.  And pay them the correct separation pay if any.

Authorized CauseSource: Roi Xcel, SlideShare

5. Does a Company Need to Report All Employees Who Departed to DOLE?

Companies do NOT NEED to report to DOLE employees who voluntarily resigned, went AWOL, or were terminated due to Just Causes (Their Fault).

However, DOLE has asked companies to report employees who were terminated For Authorized Causes (30-day Notice), were on Flexible Work Arrangement which includes Work-from-Home/Telecommuting (7 Days-Notice). This is a clear DOLE via their Labor Advisory 17-A, Series of 2020:

Labor Advisory 17-ACompanies can report by using the newest RKS Form 5 Establishment Report (DOWNLOAD HERE) last June 2020. It looks like this. You have to use the correct, latest version to be considered as properly filed. Email it to the DOLE branch where your office is located. For email addresses, here’s the details from the DOLE website. Please followup that this has been acknowledged by DOLE by email:

RKS Form 5

Page 2

Download Form: Revised Establishment Report Form

6. Patay! The Company has not Reported to DOLE? Papaano na?!

The law is clear — If you’re going to remove any employee for Authorized Causes, you need to give DOLE AND the Employee 30 day notice.

I suggest you inform both immediately. Otherwise, while your cause for termination is valid, ma-tetechnical ang company for not following due process.

DO IT ASAP!

7. How Soon Can You Rehire After a Retrenchment or Redundancy?

REMINDER: Please Terminate Employees following Good Faith

retrenchment (1)

If you terminate employees after a Retrenchment or Redundancy, you should not be quick to hire another person for the same positions. Here

For retrenchment, the reason should not be there anymore then you can hire. Kasi for retrenchment it is to prevent future losses, how long can you reverse that? It’s a matter of evidence. There is no jurisprudence on that but if done in a short while, then it will be taken against you.

For redundancy, obviously you cannot hire for the same position kasi nga abolished. If ever you revise the position it should not look like you abolished just to terminate the last one. Fine line.

Wait, What’s the Difference Between Redundancy and Retrenchment?

Thanks to Bab Research for this wonderful chart:

Redundancy vs. Retrenchment

Here’s their Youtube Page if you want to Like and Subscribe:

Bab Research

8. There’s Too Many COVID-Cases Nowadays. Takot Ako for my Life. Can I Not Report To Work?

Yes you may — But your company is also allowed to terminate your employment for Just Causes following due process.

DOLE has now allowed companies to operate if they follow minimum DOLE and DTI Health Guidelines for COVID-19 Prevention.

Labor 17

I have written about these Guidelines previously last May 2020 and have included the forms needed to ensure you are DOLE compliant, which includes asking every visitor to submit a Health Checklist:

Visitor’s Health Checklist

Visitors Checklist
Downloadable Form Here: VISITOR’S HEALTH CHECKLIST – General.

Hence, if the employees do not report when asked, company will only need to follow due process to terminate. All they have to do is follow the Twin Notice Rule. This is 100% legal.

This may fall under Just Cause of Termination — Insubordination, Willful Disobedience and/or Gross Neglect of Duties.

All HR has to do is issue a:

  1. Return to Work Order (RTWO)
  2. Notice to Explain (NTE)
  3. Another warning and Notice to Explain just to be sure – this is just for us.
  4. Administrative Hearing
  5. Notice of Termination for Just Causes due to Refusal to Report to Work

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME BEING IN IMMINENT DANGER?

So long as the company complies with the DTI and DOLE Interim Guideline Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID, workers cannot say that there is imminent danger in the workplace without any proof.

Hence, employees cannot use the excuse that “takot ako sa buhay ko,” to refuse to go to work without any repercussions. For them to use the excuse that their workplace is dangerous, DOLE has to first determine that the workplace is indeed dangerous, and issue a Work Stoppage Order to suspend operations.

Stoppage

Without the Work Stoppage Order from DOLE, employees must report if asked by their employees. If they went absent, employers have the right to issue warnings and sanctions to get them to come in. If there is imminent danger, the employees and/or safety officer can report the employer to DOLE. But you still have to report until DOLE comes in, inspects and issues a Work Stoppage Order.

Stoppage2

9. Transportation is inconvenient. Can I Not Report Because There’s No Public Transportation Available?

DOLE has mandated Employees to provide for shuttle buses or accommodation if they want to force the Employees to report during ECQ and MECQ.

However, for GCQ, there’s no advisory yet. In the absence of any formal advisories, the provision of shuttle services and decent accommodation is NOT mandatory, and is only requested from employers whenever feasible.

shuttle

So no, you can’t use the “lack of shuttle buses and accommodation” as a reason why you can’t go to work. To be fair, since we have re-opened operations in June 1, all our staff have reported. The only staff who did not report was aged 19 years old and was not allowed by the LGU to go out.

Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, maraming dahilan. 

transportPhoto Source: ABS-CBN News

10. My Employer is asking Me To Give Them a Negative COVID-19 Test Result before I am Asked to Report. Who will Pay for It?

Labor Advisory No. 18-A is clear on who pays for the rapid test/swab test — The Employer. If the staff is an agency hired employee, it is the PRINCIPAL who will have to pay for the costs of COVID-19 prevention and control measures, not the agency.

Test

If the Employer does not have budget for the test, which by the way is NOT mandatory, then the employee can have themselves tested in the local barangay or LGU which offers free COVID-19 testing.

11. Is COVID-19 Testing Mandatory?

Nope.

Again, unless the LGU specifically requests for it, companies do not need to test their employees unless they are symptomatic. All the company has to do is require the employee to file their Health Checklist Form everyday, ensure that the entire company is following the DTI and DOLE Health Rules and follow proper procedure when a worker is suspected to be positive.

We did however get our Innovita Rapid Tests from Project Ark’s Lifecore at Php 450 per box + VAT. It is straight from the source, which is why we got ours for cheaper. For everyone’s peace of mind, we tested our staff at the first day of work, all of whom turned out to be negative.  Again, testing is not mandatory.

LifeCore
License To Operate as Medical Device Importer per LTO 3000006146613
FDA Approved Brand: Innovita 2019-nCoV Ab Test (Colloidal Gold)
Sets Per Box: 40 pcs
Email to Order:  opae.arkorders@gmail.com
Look for: Avelaine ((+632) 8889-1129 local 124)

Innovita

The test takes 2.5 to 5 minutes to do. It’s actually very easy.

How to use
Source: PR Newswire

NOTE: You have to have a Certified Physician to do the test to have an official Certification.

The Cheapest RT-PCR Test that I’ve found was at Chinese General Hospital:

covid

CGH Swab Test Cost Details:

  • Drive Thru – Php 5,500.00 (You must first pre-book on their website)
  • Walk-in Cash – Php 5,000.00 (Mon – Fri)
  • First Come First Serve Walk-in with Philhealth, ONLY Php 1,600.00

Forms are available with the Guard need 2 valid Government Issued ID
First Come First Serve With additional discount for PWD / Seniors

Telephone: Chinese General Hospital: +632-8711-4141

Website: https://cghmc.com.ph/online/booking/

In Makati, it’s ₱1,500.00 for rapid test and ₱6600 for swab. Call first before proceeding.

Just to add, they have two kinds of swab test.

1. ₱12,000 – results out in 6-12 hours

2. ₱5,000 – 5,500 – results out in 3-5 days

You can check the results online.

12. We have a Staff who Refused to Undergo the COVID-19 Test? Babayaran na namin, tapos, ayaw pa? What Should We Do?

This is in violation of RA 11332, Section 9, An Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern, and Appropriating Funds Therefor, Repealing for the Purpose Act No. 3573, Otherwise Known as the “Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases”as follows:

RA 11332

Companies can compel the staff to medical examination and tests in lieu of everybody’s public health. Because if that person is positive, and it was not disclosed properly, then it would endanger everybody’s lives.

However, companies must still follow due process when a staff makes the refusal. This is the same when an employee refuses to Subject Oneself to Physical Examinations — You can actually give him an NTE to Explain His Refusal. This is under INSUBORDINATION, and if not corrected, a terminable offense.

This is a Sample Letter that can be issued by a company to an Employee who refuses medical attention.

Refusal For Medical Examination
This is scanned and copied directly from Atty. Elvin Villanueva and Sheila Marie P. Emata’s Book: Human Resource Forms, Notices & Contracts that’s published by Central Books. You can buy this book as it contains a wealth of other forms you can use for day to day.

Addendum from Martin Sanderson who PM’d me a clarification:

“Yes, I know the content of RA 11332, under Section 9, but the provisions should be read properly, if applied to an individual. As it says: “(e) Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.”

Until such time as the person has been “identified” as having been infected with COVID-19, there is no violation of this law. Moreover, the government has already stated that it is not mandatory for workers returning to work to be tested. Which means the employer cannot make it mandatory either. In a press release regarding the Department Memorandum No. 2020-0220 on Interim Guidelines on Return to Work, issued on May 21, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) reiterated that it is NOT an official requirement for employees to get tested before returning to work. They also reiterated that “neither is it expected that employers require their employees to get tested.”

This means that, while you can ASK nicely for your employees to take the COVID-19 swab test, you CANNOT insist on it. And for all those that agree to take it, the EMPLOYER is liable to cover the cost of the testing.

So what to do when an employee refuses? They can always not permit them to work, as this is a management prerogative. If the employee refuses to take the test, leave them on NWNP for another few weeks until they either comply or the need is over.

P.S. If the employee is found to have lied on the medical questionnaire, it is a violation that must be sanctioned, and is a termination offense in most cases.”

13. Oh NO! One of Our Staff Tested Positive in Rapid Test. What Do We Do?!

This is the Standard Operating Procedure if you discover that one of your staff tested positive in the rapid test:

Suspected

Source: DTI and DOLE Health Guidelines for COVID-19 Prevention

This is a reiteration of Labor Advisory No. 4:

Labor 4 - SOP

If somebody is tested positive by rapid test, you need another RT-PCR/Swab Test to ensure he is truly positive. The results will come out in 3 days or so.

Everybody present with suspected positive worker must be placed on home quarantine until the suspected worker’s Swab Test results come out. If the worker is from the province and there’s no way you can do home quarantine because they have no Manila home, you can book them in any of the following approved quarantine hotels around Metro Manila:

Quarantine Hotels

Prices range as follows — not as expensive as you think. You may have the option to pay also for the 3-meals a day food:

Prices of Hotel

The place of work must be thoroughly disinfected. After disinfection, the place of work can again be opened for the other batch of workers after 24 hours. This is legal. It is only the group of workers with the suspected positive worker who must be on home quarantine.

If the second test confirms the worker as positive of COVID-19, everyone present that day must stay at home for 14-days. If the second test shows a false positive, meaning, the worker is negative of COVID-19, everyone — including the suspected COVID-19 patient — can come back to work.

The COVID-19 Positive Patient with confirmatory RT PCR / Swab Test must be reported to the Barangay, LGU and DOH for proper contact tracing.

14. Will the Company pay for the 14-day Home Quarantine if due to COVID-19?

The Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020 is clear — NO. It is still No-Work, No-Pay.

Labor Advisory No. 4

Sorry. While employers may provide financial assistance, it’s NOT mandatory. And an employee cannot compel the boss to pay them anything just because they have mouths to feed.

15. If I am positive of COVID-19, what is the Company Liable for?

If you do not have SSS, PhilHealth Coverage due to the fault of the employer, the employer will pay for your expenses from the time you got diagnosed up until the time you get well.

Labor 4 - Coverage
Source: Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020

If you do have SSS and/or Philhealth Benefits, they will cover you in the event of getting COVID-19. For SSS, there’s the SSS Sickness Benefit (Requires: 3 months contributions within the 12-month period before the semester of sickness) and Employee’s Compensation (EC) Program.

In general, this is the extent of coverage you can get if you get COVID-19 — It’s not big but it’s not zero. There is aid. But we still need to help ourselves:

Coverage

Here’s more information about the PhilHealth benefits you can get if you have COVID-19:IMG_1775Anything beyond this, the government nor the company is not really liable. If the company has an HMO or a CBA, then the employee gets additional benefits.

However, please be conscious about the fine print in availing the benefits of an HMO. You need proper reporting and receipts to avail of HMO. If you get COVID-19, there are no cash outs but you may reimburse your expenses if you have an HMO or a CBA, depending on the content of the agreement.

coronavirustreatment1Image Source

So please do not be as quick to insist that you be hospitalized if you are asymptomatic. Please be careful, quarantine yourself properly, and enjoy the rest. Because if you are hospitalized, every single cost will be charged to the hospital bill — every swab test, PPE, medicine and room stay. If the employee is not careful, he can be very well liable for the hospitalization bill that’s not covered by SSS, Philhealth and HMO.

16. I am Pregnant or a Senior Citizen, and I was Placed in Floating Status. Is this Legal? 

Priority staff

Yes, because the government considers senior citizens and pregnant women as high risk. Thus employers are encouraged — but not mandated — to offer WFH opportunities.

At riskSource: Workplace rules set to cut spread of COVID-19, May 2020

If there is no work that can be assigned, management has no choice but to place that staff in floating status under No Work No Pay. Once again, we refer back to Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020:

Labor Advisory No. 4

17. Is the Employer Not Obliged to Give Employees Work From Home Opportunities?

Let’s make it clear: Work from Home (WFH) is a Privilege — NOT an Obligation.

The Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act gives Employers the OPTION to offer employees Telecommuting or WFH as an alternative work arrangement which employers may implement upon agreement with their employees, subject to mutually agreed terms and conditions. Essentially, the new law sets out the rights and duties of the employers and employees when a telecommuting program is in place. It further provides for the resolution of grievances arising from the telecommuting program.

WFHImage Source: IT Chronicles

It is an OPTION that employers can do. However, it is not mandatory unless the employment contract states that the employee is a work-from-home from the very beginning. Even with COVID-19 on the rise, WFH is still a benefit that’s graciously given but can also be taken away. So if this type of arrangement does not work for the Employers anymore, they may remove this privilege.

18. Wait, is Floating Status Even Legal?

Martin Sanderson shares his thoughts on Floating Status in his comprehensive article, Suspension of Business Operations. It’s a worthwhile read. But if you don’t like to read, I can tell you for a fact that yes, it is legal to place employees under floating status with conditions. This is the Jurisprudence for Article 301, When an Employment is Not Deemed Terminated:

Article 301

The Supreme Court in the case of Crispin B. Lopez vs. Irvine Construction Corp. and Tomas Sy Santos (GR 207253, Aug. 20, 2014) through Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, gives an enlightening explanation about lay-off as a valid management prerogative, to wit:

“It is defined as the severance of employment, through no fault of and without prejudice to the employee, resorted to by management during the periods of business recession, industrial depression, or seasonal fluctuations, or during lulls caused by lack of orders, shortage of materials, conversion of the plant to a new production program or the introduction of new methods or more efficient machinery, or of automation. Elsewise stated, lay-off is an act of the employer of dismissing employees because of losses in the operation, lack of work, and considerable reduction on the volume of its business, a right recognized and affirmed by the Court. However, a lay-off would be tantamount to a dismissal only if it is permanent.

“When a lay-off is only temporary, the employment status of the employee is not deemed terminated, but merely suspended. The lay-off, being an exercise of the employer’s management prerogative, must be exercised in good faith – that is, one which is intended for the advancement of employers’ interest and not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws or under valid agreements. xxx xxx xxx Six months is the period set by law that the operation of a business or undertaking may be suspended thereby suspending the employment of the employees concerned. The temporary lay-off wherein the employees likewise cease to work should also not last longer than six months. After six months, the employees should either be recalled to work or permanently retrenched following the requirements of the law, and that failing to comply with this would be tantamount to dismissing the employees and the employer would thus be liable for such dismissal.” (Emphases supplied).

Source: Manila Times, PAO Persida Acosta, September 29, 2019

Direct employers can place their employees on floating status for 6 months. But for agency-employed workers who are follow DO 174, floating status is only for 3 months.

If an Employer wishes to apply for floating status, here are the steps: HR Talk: How to Apply for Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA), Temporary Closure, Retrenchment and Permanent Closure. Please note that you need to use the latest RKS 5 Form.

RKS Form 5

Page 2

Download Form: Revised Establishment Report Form

When does the Count of 6 Months Start?

The count of the suspension starts on the first day of the suspension period, which occurs AFTER the 30-day notice period (or immediately on the effect of the closure of business on March 17, for those companies that closed with their employees on NWNP).

Time to start

If the staff were already on floating status due to them being in BPO — and if the BPO got hit with the ECQ and hanggang ngayon, floating ba din sila — the BPO must make a decision to either ask the staff to return to work or retrench. If there’s no work to be given and they cannot give the staff work, retrenchment is the only option.

IMPORTANT: DOLE has NO formal announcements yet if the ECQ is counted in putting staff on floating status for regular employees. 

My lawyer says that the meter for the 6 months start when the company informs DOLE by submitting the RKS 5 Form.

Even when calling the DOLE Hotline, they cannot give me an answer as to whether the ECQ is included in the counting of 6 months.

The only notice that says ECQ is included relates to Probationary Employees in Labor Advisory No. 14-A, which does not count the ECQ (if unworked) to the 180-days count of employment.

Labor 14-A

So awaiting labor announcement regarding this.

REMINDER: RETRENCHMENT AND REDUNDANCY MUST BE DONE IN GOOD FAITH

Call-center

Companies always have to exercise good faith when terminating employees. In G.R. No. 235873 – Enrique Marco G. Yulo vs. Concentrix, jurisprudence indicates:

Essentially, redundancy exists when an employee’s position is superfluous, or an employee’s services are in excess of what would reasonably be demanded by the actual requirements of the enterprise. Redundancy could be the result of a number of factors, such as the overhiring of workers, a decrease in the volume of business, or the dropping of a particular line or service previously manufactured or undertaken by the enterprise.33 In this relation, jurisprudence explains that the characterization of an employee’s services as redundant, and therefore, properly terminable, is an exercise of management prerogative,34 considering that an employer has no legal obligation to keep more employees than are necessary for the operation of its business.35

Nevertheless, case law qualifies that the exercise of such prerogative “must not be in violation of the law, and must not be arbitrary or malicious.”36 Thus, following Article 298 of the Labor Code as above cited, the law requires the employer to prove, inter alia, its good faith in abolishing the redundant positions, and further, the existence of fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining what positions are to be declared redundant and accordingly abolished.

“To exhibit its good faith and that there was a fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining redundant positions, a company claiming to be over manned must produce adequate proof of the same.”37

Thus, the Court has ruled that it is not enough for a company to merely declare that it has become overmanned. Rather, it must produce adequate proof of such redundancy to justify the dismissal of the affected employees, such as but not limited to the new staffing pattern, feasibility studies/proposal, on the viability of the newly created positions, job description and the approval by the management of the restructuring.38″

19. Can an Employee Find New Work When Placed in Temporary Lay-Off/Floating Status?

Depending on the Contract of Employment.

Temporary

In our company, we have a tight clause that prohibits employees for moonlighting, sidelining or accepting any other employment while being employed with us. If they accept other jobs, this is equivalent to resigning from their work, and we will send them an Notice to Explain (following due process) to explain why they have disobeyed this rule.

Meanwhile, there are some companies who are okay with employees finding another job while on temporary leave.

To be sure, coordinate with your HR to see what your company says about you taking another job.

20. What Happens if my Employer Cannot Return Me to Work After the 6 Months (for Direct), or 3 Months (for Agency Hired Workers)?

If not, then your Employer will pay you Separation Pay following your Years of Service.

And once again, you can apply for the Involuntary Unemployment Benefit of the SSS.

More infor

21. How do I Compute for my Separation/Retrenchment/Retirement Pay Again?

Again, here’s an Excel I’ve made to help you compute how much you will get if you got Retrenched, Retired or Redundant. It’s in Excel so is not Mobile Friendly. Please use your desktop to access.

Retirement Pay Calculator

Download the Excel Here: Final Retirement Pay Calculator (TinainManila.com)

DISCLAIMER:  This online calculator is made available solely for the convenience of public. It follows the SSS schedule of contribution tables and is based on the author’s own interpretation. It provides calculations based on the information you provide. All data entered are not stored. It is suggested, however, to clear your browser cache after completing your transaction.

For Retrenchment, I thank Richard de Dios for simplifying the calculation for all of us. Here’s how he computed the severance pay of a 22-month tenured employee:

“Ang 22 months is equivalent to 2 years tenure by virtue of the provision that a fraction of 6 months or more is considered 1 year.

Then said employee is only entitled to 1 month separation pay (1/2 per year of service x 2 years). The minimum 1 month applies to those with less than 1.5 years of tenure since they will only be entitled to 1/2 month pay if the entitlement is 1/2 month per year of service”

In short:

1 mo – 2 yrs 5 mos = 1 month pay

2 yrs 6 mos – 3 yrs 5 mos = 1.5 months pay

3 yrs 6 mos – 4 yrs 5 mos = 2 months pay

4 yrs 6 mos – 5 yrs 5 mos = 2.5 months pay

Thank you Sir Richard! ❤️

Please be reminded that there is NO SEPARATION PAY given to the following employees who left for the following reasons:

  • End of Contract Employees, regardless of Contractual, Fixed Term or Project Based
  • Probationary Employees who did not pass the standards for regularization
  • Employees who resigned from their work, regardless of tenure
  • Employees who were terminated for Just Causes:

Just CausesSource: Department of Labor and Employment, October 2017

22. Can an Employer Reduce my Wages and Benefits?

Under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, this is allowed so long as there’s written agreement between the Employer and Employee:

IMG_2025

No matter what the reason, an employer cannot reduce the wages or benefits after a verbal agreement. It must be written and with the employee’s consent before the pay or benefit cut is done. If the agreement is after the pay cut, the employer is still liable for the amount if and when the employee complains.

This pay cut is only for 6 months ha. Huwag abuso and must be done in good faith.

BONUS QUESTION: Do I Have to Return the SBWS Ayuda if I Resigned in GCQ?

YES — You have to return the aid if you resigned in ECQ and MECQ.

NO — You do not need to return the aid if you resigned in GCQ.

Under the DOF-SSS-BIR Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001-2020, as amended, on the SBWS program, the following are required to return their SBWS subsidy:
  1. Employers who fail to maintain the employment status of their employee beneficiaries within the original SBWS Period of March 17, 2020 to May 31, 2020 must return to the government the SBWS amount granted to these employees.
  2. Employee-beneficiaries who resign during the period when enhanced community quarantine or modified enhanced community quarantine is imposed in the region or local government unit where the place of business of his employer is found.
  3. Employers who misrepresented in their application any material fact relevant to the eligibility of their employees, such as, but not limited to the following:
    1. those who paid wages/salary for the whole of ECQ to all employees;
    2. those whose employees were not prevented from going to work nor unpaid for at least two weeks (straight 14 consecutive days) during the ECQ;
    3. those who applied for separated employees;
    4. those whose employees voluntarily went on the following types of leave: maternity leave, paternity leave, study leave, sabbatical leave, and leaves of the same time — for the entire duration of the ECQ, whether with or without pay;
    5. those whose employees are recipients of SSS unemployment benefits due to COVID-19; or
    6. those whose employees have settled or in-process SSS final claims (funeral, retirement, death, and total disability).
  4. Employers of employees who are DOLE CAMP beneficiaries who received the full amount of the SBWS Second Tranche.
For employees who received both the DSWD’s SAP and SBWS, they should approach their Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer to discuss steps for refunding the DSWD’s SAP-ESP.

Source: Social Security System Facebook

Disclaimer

Posted in Business, Conflicts, covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Ethics, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, How to Manage People, Human Resources (HR), Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

HR Talk: 13 Questions Answered about the 105-Day Maternity Leave Law (And an Excel Calculator to Compute Mat Ben)

The RA No. 11210 105-Day Maternity Leave Law is one of the most highly celebrated laws passed by the Duterte government last 2019. Despite the hoopla surrounding this law, so many people are still confused about its application, specifically how the maternity benefit is computed. Even as I’ve browsed through multiple articles, so many writers still have the computation part wrong.

What’s the semester of contingency? How exactly do you compute salary differential?”

To make things simpler, I have collated the following questions to make sense of this wonderful yet oftentimes confusing law for your reference:

14 questionsUpdated with two additional questions on July 6, 2020

1. What is RA No. 11210 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law (EMLL)?

Pregnant

Otherwise known as the “105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law,” the RA 11210 expanded the maternity leave of women — married or otherwise — to:

  • Live Birth: 105-days with full pay, and an additional 30 days without pay. If the female worker wants to extend the leave, the female worker needs to give the head of the agency a written notice at least 45 days before the end of mat leave to get the extra 30 days without pay. The 30-day extension only applies for live childbirth.
  • Miscarriage (Pregnancy loss before the 20th week of gestation): 60 days with full pay. You cannot allocate the ML to anybody else.
  • Qualified Solo Parents under the RA 8972 “Solo Parents’ Welfare Act”: Will receive an extra 15 days of fully paid maternity leave, totaling 120 days.
    • Solo Parent: You must be qualified under the RA 8972 or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. Hindi pwedeng iniwanan ka ng asawa mo, automatic solo parent ka na who can avail of the extra 15 days.
    • The solo parent must present her Solo Parent ID issued within 2 years by the LGU from the delivery date, duly signed by the social worker and the city/municipal mayor. If the Solo Parent ID is not yet available, the member may secure and present a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the LGU and signed by the social worker/city/municipal mayor instead.
    • IMPORTANT: If she’s employed, she will be granted a salary differential for the extra period as long as she has rendered at least one year of service with the current employer.
  • Allocation of 7 Days to Caregiver, Leaving Woman with 98 Days: By written notice to the employer and the elected caregiver, the mother can allocate up to 7 days of her maternity benefits to the child’s father or sexual partner (pag gay), sharing the same household whether they are married or not.pregnant woman
    Photo Source
  • If the father is in absentia, she can give it to an alternate caregiver. Qualified caregiver must be a relative within the 4th degree of consanguinity. The person MUST BE related to the female worker by blood and shares the same ancestry or lineage. Hindi pwedeng best friends lang.If no leave is allocated, the child’s father or alternative caregiver, can only be excused from work (leave without pay).
  • If the mother dies or is permanently incapacitated: The balance of her mat leave can be transferred to the father or the qualified caregiver. However, the conditions are:
    • The maternity leave benefits has not yet been converted to cash
    • A certified true copy of death certificate or medical certificate/abstract is provided to both the employers of the female worker and the child’s father or caregiver.
  • The allocation is beyond the 7 days of leave provided under RA 8187 or the “Paternity Leave Act of 1996,” which requires the father to be married AND co-habitating with the pregnant wife to be qualified.

Paternity

2. What is the Difference between the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law to its Predecessor?

New-SSS-Maternity-Benefit

  1. Number of paid leave days: Previously, the maternity leave was only 60 days for miscarriages and birth deliveries, 78 days for Caesarian births. Now, it’s 105 paid days for both natural or Caesarian births, and unchanged for miscarriages.
  2. Employers is responsible for paying the salary differential: The Salary Differential (SD) is the difference between the staff’s computed 105-days mat leave minus the actual cash benefits received from SSS. The salary differential exists because the highest SSS Monthly Salary Credit is Php 20,000 (Note: Enjoyed by workers who paid Php 2,400 per month of total SSS contributions).Salary differential
  3. Maternity leave with full pay — 105 days for childbirth, 60 days for miscarriage — shall still be granted if worker is terminated within Fifteen (15) days of birth, miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy. If the pregnant worker is terminated with Just Cause — meaning, fault of staff na terminate siya — this is not valid.Rule of Thumb, if you earn Php 20,000 or less, there is no salary differential. If you earn Php 20,001 or more, there is a salary differential.
  4. Frequency of births/miscarriages: The limit of 4 births are removed. However, no matter how many children birthed, it’s still just one claim of mat benefits per time.
  5. Solo Parents get an Additional 15 days Leave. Dati, wala.

3. What I Found to be Most Interesting About this Law:

  1. 10 Years: Period where a female member can claim maternity leave benefit with the SSS (SSS Circular No. 2019-009, Section 19). 9 years old na ang anak mo, pwede pang mahabol.
  2. The maternity leave must be done in a continuous and uninterrupted manner. It may be a combo of prenatal and postnatal leave so long as it does not exceed the prescribed number of ML (Max: 105 days for birth, 60 days for miscarriages). In no case the postnatal care be less than 60 days (SSS Circular No. 2019-009).
  3. Mode of Payment: The female worker has the option of getting the full pay either through lump sum, or regular payment through agency payroll. The female worker must get a clearance from money, property and work-related accountabilities, but this should still not deprive her of the mat benefit.
  4. If the female employee goes AWOL, the Employer can still reimburse to the SSS by providing the following documents in combination below:AWOL SSS
    We understand that many employees choose to abandon their work without turnover after giving birth. Please ensure that the staff is cleared properly before her maternity leave, and you have complete documents in holding her accountable for certain documents if in case she does not return.
  5. Penalty: Employers should comply or be fined a Php 20,000 to Php 200,000 penalty, and may be imprisoned for 6 years and 1 day to 12 years. If the act is done by the company, its management head, directors or partners shall be liable for the penalties. A business can also be denied for business permit renewal.
  6. Sec. 15 of EMLL allows the company to transfer the female worker to a parallel position or reassignment from one organizational unit to another so long as it’s within the company and there’s no reduction of rank, status or salary.
  7. Maternity benefit is actually non-taxable — thanks to Sir Richard de Dios for the correction.Salary Differential is not taxable as per RMC 105-2019.For self employed members, any SSS contributions remitted or paid to SSS in the months within the quarter of contingency will not be included or counted to met the 3 monthly contributions in the 12 month period prior the semester of contingency. This can happen since voluntary members has the option to pay monthly, quarterly or Annually. Below is a copy of RMC 105-2019 I’m sure a lot of people will be informed well because of the article you posted.
  8. People who signed this law in February 20 2019 were controversial and known to be anti-women. So are they truly anti-women? Kudos to them for passing this bill! :): Pres Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Philippine President
    • Vicente C. Sotto III, Senate President
    • Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo, Speaker of the House of Representatives
    • Myra Marie D. Villarica, Senate Secretary
    • Dante Roberto P. Maling, Acting House of Representatives SecGen

4. How can an employer get exemption from RA No. 11210?

A company can be exempted from RA 11210 if employers asks DOLE for approval of exemption. This is done every year, and the justification is sufficient for DOLE to exempt the company. The target employers for exemption include:

  1. Distressed establishmentsFor companies: When actual net loss amounts to 25% of total assets or when there’s negative stockholders’ equity;
    • For sole prop and partnership: When the accumulated net loss for the last 2 accounting periods immediately before the application for exemption is 20% or more of the total invested capital under review, or when the boss registers capital deficiency before before the application for exemption
  2. Those retail/service businesses with 10 workers or less
  3. Those considered as micro business enterprises, and are engaged in the production, processing or manufacturing of products/commodities whose total assets are Php 3 million or less
  4. Those who are providing similar or more than the benefits provided

According to the DOLE Advisory No. 1, Series of 2019, employers can be exempted from paying the salary differential by submitting in duplicate copies the following documents to the DOLE Regional/Provincial/Field/Satellite Offices where they operate within the first semester of every calendar year:

  1. DOLE-Prescribed Application Form in Word Doc and PDF
  2. Copy of Certificate of Registration issued by the DTI or SEC
  3. Copy of latest business permit issued by LGU
  4. Additional requirements for the following
    1. For distressed establishments:Audited financial statements duly received by the BIR and/or SEC or the Cooperative Development Authority or
      • Certificate from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that the company is under receivership or liquidation
    2. Businesses that regularly employ no more than 10 workers:Owner’s or President’s Affidavit as to the number of employees for the twelve-month period before the application date
    3. Micro-businesses whose total assets are not more than Php 3 million:Barangay Micro Business Certification
    4. Establishments providing similar or more benefits provided in RA 11210: CTC of existing Collective Bargaining Agreement or policy, or
      1. Employer and Worker Representative’s Certification of existing company practice

The Certificate of Exemption is valid for one year from issuance. However, if the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has already issued that business a Certificate of Exemption for payment of minimum wages for a certain year, this Certificate is already enough to exempt the company from paying the salary differential for the same year. No need to apply for another exemption.

WARNING: Once you file, DOLE will conduct an inspection if necessary to verify the number of workers, nature of business and get other information within 5 working days of application receipt. It is still subject for approval.

5. Who are Qualified for the SSS 105-Days Maternity Leave Benefit?

Rights and Benefits of pregnant Women

If the female worker does not have enough qualifying contributions, she is NOT entitled to both SSS Maternity Benefit and Salary Differential Pay.

IMPORTANT: The female worker should have at least THREE (3) monthly SSS remittances in the twelve-month period immediately before the semester of contingency for childbirth, miscarriage or emergency termination of pregnancy. If you have inadequate number of hulogs, you are disqualified.

Three

If disqualified, you are referred to the PhilHealth Circular No. 022-2014 or the “Social Health Insurance Coverage and Benefits for Women About to Give Birth.”

Philhealth

NOTE: Payment of maternity benefit automatically disqualifies the member from availing of the sickness benefit from the same period.

6. What is the Semester of Contingency?

SSS looks at the Semester of Contingency for members to avail of Maternity, Disability, Sickness and Retirement Benefits. Philippines QA offers one of the better explanation on what exactly a Semester of Contingency means:

Semester of Contingency

Source: What is  SEMESTER OF CONTINGENCY? 

7. How do I Compute my SSS Maternity Benefit and Salary Differential using my Semester of Contingency?

Step 1: Check out if you are qualified based on your hulogs.

If you’re too lazy to compute it, just use this chart:

Compute Semester of Contingency

Check out your due date, see if you have paid at least 3 hulogs on the months highlighted in YELLOW. If you are, you’re qualified. If not, you’re not.

Step 2: Identify the Top 6 Hulogs You Made that Fell on the Qualifying Period. 

EDD

Step 3: Get the Average of the 6 Hulogs to See the Corresponding Monthly Salary Credit

Using the SSS Contribution Table of 2019, check out the corresponding Monthly Salary Credit for the top 6 hulogs. Since Php 2,400 is the maximum hulog, then the MSC of the staff is Php 20,000, the highest allocation.

Add all the top 6 and divide it by 180 to get the Daily Salary Credit. So for our example, the Daily Salary Credit is Php 20,000 x 6 / 180 = Php 666.67 per day.

SSS-Contribution-1

Step 4: Multiply the SSS Daily Salary Credit to Get the SSS Maternity Benefit

If your calculated average Daily Salary Credit is Php 666.67:

  • For live births, multiply Php 666.67 by 105 days = Php 70,000 SSS Maternity Benefit
  • For miscarriage, multiply Php 666.67 by 60 days = Php 40,000 SSS Miscarriage Benefit
  • If Solo Parent, multiply Php 666.67 by 120 days = Php 80,000 Maternity Benefit

Step 5: If you are employed, the Salary Differential is;

  • For Live Births: Full Pay x 3.5 months MINUS SSS Maternity Benefit
  • For Miscarriage: Full Pay x 2 months MINUS SSS Miscarriage Benefit

To Calculate Full pay: Actual Earnings including allowances provided under CBA if any

To Calculate Equivalent Monthly Rate: Daily Wage x Factor — 313 if 6 days work, 261 if 5 days work — divided by 12.

Hence, if you earn Php 30,000, the estimated maternity benefit is Php 105,000 (Computation: Php 30,000 x 3.5 months). Breakdown as follows:

  • Php 70,000: From the SSS Maternity Benefit which will be reimbursed to the employer
  • Less: Php 2,800 Employee Share of SSS Benefits (Php 800 x 3.5 months)
  • Less: Php 1,575.00 Employee Share of Philhealth Benefits (Php 450 x 3.5 months)
  • Less: Php 350.00 Employee Share of Benefits for Pag-Ibig  (Php 100 x 3.5 months)
  • Salary Differential Paid by Employer to Staff: Php 30,275.00

The amount that the Employee will get  is Php 105,000 minus Php 2,800 SSS minus Php 1,575 Philhealth and Php 350.00 Pag-Ibig = Php 100,275.00.

To make it simple, employees will usually not get any Salary Differential if they are earning Php 20,000 and below.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:

  1. A company cannot deduct the Employee Share of Mandatory Benefits without written consent from the employee. Deduct the Employee share of Mandatory Benefits from Salary Differential, if any.
  2. Without Salary Differential, you can deduct it from the SSS Maternity Benefit with employee authorization. But SSS will only reimburse the amount on the voucher you have paid to the Employee. So if you deducted the EE share of Mandatory Benefits from the SSS Mat Ben, you will also get a reduced payment from SSS.
  3. The maximum money that SSS will pay is the computed SSS Maternity Benefit. So in this case, it’s Php 70,000.
  4. WARNING: In actuality, SSS will only reimburse the employer the SSS Maternity Benefit if the employer submits complete documents. There are cases that if kulang sa documents, SSS will not reimburse the employer even if the company has already paid the employee its full benefits.

8. My head is exploding with all the Calculations. Do you have an SSS Maternity Benefit Calculator to make my life simple?

Yes, I do!

calculator

I have developed a simple FINAL SSS Maternity Benefit 070420 to help people find out their Semester of Contingency and calculate their maternity benefits regardless of the year. It is downloadable for free, but must be checked out via the desktop. You can’t use it via the mobile phone until I next level my app development skills.

The only thing you need to do is input your information on the YELLOW boxes. The calculator will compute your estimated Maternity Benefit for you.

Download HERE: FINAL SSS Maternity Benefit 070420:

SSS Maternity Benefit Calculator

DISCLAIMER:  This online calculator is made available solely for the convenience of public. It follows the SSS schedule of contribution tables and is based on the author’s own interpretation. It provides calculations based on the information you provide. All data entered are not stored. It is suggested, however, to clear your browser cache after completing your transaction.

Should you find any inaccuracy, or have suggestions to improve this calculator, please PM me.

9. I am Qualified. Where Can I File for My SSS Maternity Benefit?

The SSS is clear — if you are employed, you have to file your MAT-1 with your Employer. It is then your employer who needs to submit the form to the SSS.

If you are paying voluntarily, you can file for your Maternity Benefit online or via the branch:

Type of Member

If you have been terminated from your work recently, if you are giving birth within 6 months of Termination, you still need a) A Certificate of Non-Advancement of SSS Maternity Leave Benefit and B) L-501 from your Employer. Beyond the 6-month timeline, you won’t need these documents anymore.

10. What do Employed Workers Need to Do to Avail of the Maternity Benefit? 

  1. The female worker must submit to the employer a MAT-1, informing the employer of the pregnancy and the Estimated Due Date (EDD) at least 30 days in advance.
  2. The employer should forward the MAT-1 to SSS for acknowledgment. They can do so online via the Employer’s my.SSS Facility or submit it to the branch.
  3. Employers should advance the full payment 30 days from the filing of maternity leave application.
  4. SSS should IMMEDIATELY reimburse the employer 100% of the maternity benefits advanced to the employer upon receipt of satisfactory and legal proof of payments.
  5. If the employer did not remit the required contributions they deducted from the employee, the employer shall pay SSS the maternity benefits the employee should have been entitled to.
  6. After the birth, the Employer should submit the Certificate of Live Birth that’s registered in the LCR or PSA to reimburse their MAT-2. The other requirements needed are as follows:

Requirements

NOTICE: It is the employee’s responsibility to give their SSS number to their employer. The deadline of payment is the last day of the month following the applicable month.

Reiterating: If the female employee goes AWOL, the Employer can still reimburse to the SSS by providing the following documents in combination below:

AWOL SSS
We understand that many employees choose to abandon their work without turnover after giving birth. Please ensure that the staff is cleared properly before her maternity leave, and you have complete documents in holding her accountable for certain documents if in case she does not return.

11. What are Females who are Not Employed but Have Enough SSS Hulogs?

IMPORTANT: If unemployed, there are no salary differential computed. Just the SSS maternity benefit.

  1. Those in the informal economy, OFWs, voluntary SSS members should inform the SSS of their application direct (RA No. 11210 IRR, Rule VI, Section 2). They can apply for the maternity benefit online via the SSS Mobile App using their existing user ID and password. For any issues regarding registration, email: onlineserviceassistance@sss.gov.ph.
  2. SSS will pay the female member directly. However, the Member has to submit the correct documents to be given their maternity benefit.

Requirements

WARNING: The SSS contributions must be remitted on time. 

  1. The member can pay monthly, quarterly or semi-annually based on the payment deadline.
  2. Payment deadline: The last day of the month following the applicable month or calendar quarter. For example: The July 2019 to September 2019 quarterly SSS contribution can be paid only until October 31, 2019.
  3. If the payment deadline falls in a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, you can still pay the next working day. Any late contribution payments will be applicable the following month.
  4. For advanced payments, only the contributions applicable for the month before the semester of contingency can be included in the maternity benefit calculation.
  5. No SSS contributions that are paid RETROACTIVELY (or pahabol) based on the deadline will be included in determining your eligibility for the maternity benefit. This is most important when the contingency date of payment is within or after the semester of contingency.

SOURCE: SSS Corporate Communications Department, July 2019

12. Why did SSS deny my claim for “overlapping benefits?”

Overlapping
If there’s an overlapping mat benefit claims (IRR, Rule VI, Sec. 7, Consecutive Pregnancies and Multiple Childbirths):

    1. If it’s one after another — One miscarriage after another, or followed by live childbirth — the female member will still be granted mat ben for two consecutive contingencies (RA. 11210 IRR, Part V, Section 6, Consecutive Pregnancies and Multiple Childbirth).
    2. However, the pay for the 2nd contingency is reduced by the amount of benefit corresponding to the period of overlap.

Consecutive

14. For voluntary members who need a bank account so SSS can transfer the money, which banks can accept SSS benefit payments?

Voluntary SSS members who are qualified for the Maternity Benefit can receive the money through:

a.   Their Bank Savings or Checking Account.
b.   For cash cards, please make sure that your cash card can receive more than Php 10,000 at a time, or the money will bounce back
c.    SSS UMID card as your ATM card, but you need first to activate your UMID card at Union Bank kiosks at SSS branches

For a., the following banks can receive such payments:

  • Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines
  • Asia United Bank (AUB)
  • Bank of Commerce (BCommerce)
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
  • BDO Unibank Inc. formerly Banco de Oro Unibank Inc.
  • BDO Network Bank, formerly called One Network Bank
  • Century Savings Bank
  • China Banking Corp. (ChinaBank)
  • CityState Savings Bank Inc.
  • Country Builders Bank Inc.
  • Country Rural Bank of Taguig Inc.
  • CTBC Bank Corp. formerly Chinatrust Banking Corp.
  • Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
  • East West Bank
  • First Consolidated Bank
  • Guagua Rural Bank
  • Innovative Bank
  • Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank)
  • Maybank Philippines Inc.
  • Merchant Savings Bank
  • Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank)
  • Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom)
  • Philippine Business Bank
  • Philippine National Bank (PNB)
  • Philippine Postal Savings Bank now Overseas Filipino Bank
  • Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank)
  • Philippine Trust Co. (Philtrust)
  • Philippine Veterans Bank (Veterans Bank)
  • PNB Savings Bank formerly Allied Banking Corp.
  • Postbank Savings Bank
  • Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC)
  • RCBC Savings Bank Inc.
  • Rural Bank of Pililla (Rizal) Inc.
  • Security Bank (SB)
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank)
  • United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB)

Thank you to PhilippinesQA.com for compiling the above-mentioned list.You’re the best!

13. Why Was My Maternity Benefit Claim Denied?

For various reasons. Here are 15 most common reasons:

Reasons why Mat Claim Denied
Download the Excel Here: Reasons Why Maternity Claim Was Not Paid

14. Where Can I Conveniently Download All the Documents I Need to Apply for my Maternity Leave Benefit?

The source materials on the Expanded Maternity Benefit can be downloaded here:

You can download the relevant forms here:

BONUS QUESTION: How do I Contact SSS for Other Inquiries?

Did you know that you can notify SSS DAW of your pregnancy through text?

SSS Text

Or Message them through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SSSPh/

SSS Hotline2SSS Hotline
Disclaimer

Posted in Business, covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, How to Manage People, Human Resources (HR), Legal Talk, Lists, Philippines, Pregnancy, SSS, Philhealth or Pagibig, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

HR Talk: Why Do We Need to Pick our Employers Well? And How to Compute for Retirement (And Separation Pay)

More than ever, an employee must take special care in finding an employer he/she would want to serve with. If I were an employee, the ECQ would have been an eye opener.

meme

Not only does it shed light to the type of lifestyle I am having — whether I’m too magastos or kuripot for my own good but it also tells me the type of employer that I currently have. From the ECQ alone, you would know if your employer is pamatagalan, or pang good time lang.

From the ECQ and the post ECQ, I can see if this employer is a ship I should latch myself on. For many people who are risk averse, working and staying for a stable company is something most people are comfortable are doing. Given that you would have to be dependent on your employer to sustain your livelihood, it is even more important to make the right choice on where to work in.

For example, you can really see from the ECQ if your employer truly loves its people. You can see how barat or generous they are to its staff. From the way they plan the ECQ, you can see whether your employer takes the long view, or have no clue what they’re really doing. You can also see if the company is financially stable, or is fueled by debt. Sa totoo lang, the ECQ was such an awesome learning experience. Both employer and employee can learn a lot from each other.

This is why Employees should Pick and Choose a Good Employer Post ECQ

This is the reason why its’ crucial that you pick a good employer.

Since you’re going to invest years into a company, and thus incurring opportunity costs in staying with that employer, might as well pick an employer na pamataggalan. 

logo-top

Stop job hopping at every chance you get just because there’s a better offer out there. If there’s anything that the ECQ has taught me, is that there is value to staying put at a job.

One, the ECQ was not kind to those who were newly hired. Take SBWS for example, if you just started in February 2020, chances are, you won’t be eligible for the SBWS grant. It’s not the fault of the company or the SSS. That’s still Php 16,000 na sayang just because you are new.

Two, many businesses gave more financial assistance to people who have stayed longer. Which by the way, is tama lang.

The biggest draw of bad luck during ECQ were people who were employed in Company A for decades. Since Company B gave them a better offer,  they moved to Company B in February or March. However, because they resigned, they did not get any separation pay. And when COVID-19 hit, they got nothing from DOLE CAMP or SBWS. And was first to be fired if some deep retrenchment is needed. So in the end, Company A saved a lot of money, while Company B did not have to pay them anything because they are probationary employees.

Whether You Can Reach Retirement Age in a Company is a Key Factor in Determining Where to Work

If you’re going to choose an employer, choose a company where you can see yourself serving for years, and retire. Employees are qualified for retirement once they reach a certain age and has served at least 5 years of service in that employer.

Retirement pay 3Source: Atty. Pol Sangalang, Updates on Labor Law and Jurisprudence

The condition for Retirement is Simple:

  1. If aged 60 to 64 years old, retirement is optional
  2. If aged 65 years old and above, retirement becomes compulsory
  3. Staff needs minimum of 5 years service to be entitled to Retirement Pay
  4. If there’s a favorable plan generated by CBA, then this is applied.

Here’s the RA 7641, An Art that Provides Retirement Pay to Qualified Private Employees in the Absence of any Retirement Plan:

RA 7641

Stay in a Company for as Long as You Can

There’s definitely a big difference in the amount of money a company has to pay for a if the Employee is Retrenched or Retired.

Let us assume 35-year old Joyce started at the company in 1995 for Php 8,000.00. She started as a mere rank-and-file employee, but through years and experience, she was promoted to Finance Manager and is now earning Php 40,000 a month.

Hand putting wooden cube block on blue background with word CAREER and copy space for your text. Business career planning growth to success concept

At the end of her 25th year, Joyce is now earning Php 40,000. She has proven her worth to her boss. By this time, Joyce is now 60 years old and based on her company’s policy, is now qualified for early retirement.

Check out how much Joyce is making if she’s retired after 25 years, vs. if she’s retrenched:

Retirement

There is a Php 362,619.80 payout difference if Joyce is retired, vs. if she’s retrenched, even if it’s both calculated using 25 years of service. No matter how you spin it, retirement pay is still at least 72.5% higher than retrenchment pay, due to the extra days paid per year of service. Joyce gets 72% more money from her employer if she’s retired, than if she’s retrenched.

Personally, I would never say no to money, especially if it’s Php 865,000 in today’s currency.

Couple this with the SSS pension that an employee can get, it’s very easy for employees to be insta-millionaires just by staying in one company. If you work for a company today, your salary today will still increase due to inflation. No matter how you spin it, that money you get during your retirement — assuming you’re working for a good employer who will not cheat you of this pay — can be huge. Definitely bigger than the Php 8,000 starting salary that Joyce had when she first started.

This is the reason why I always tell my staff to not quit — the money they will make sticking with me is better than the salary they will get jumping from one bad employer after another. Plus, long tenured employees get really really expensive. If you count it, the retirement pay is similar to getting almost a 14th month pay using the most current salary amount for every year of service!

Retirement Pay in the Philippines is 22.5 x Years of Service x Monthly Salary

Retirement Pay only counts the staff’s current year of salary in computation. In short, it does not matter how much was your salary when you first started. What matters is how much you earn today when you are retired:

Retirement2

To compute for the retirement pay, the information we need are the following:

  • Monthly Salary at the Time of Retirement:
  • Years of Service:

The law says, In the absence of a retirement plan… an employee upon reaching an age of 60 years or more, but not beyond 65 years which is hereby declared the compulsory retirement age, who has serviced at least 5 years in the said establishment, may retire… The retirement pay is equivalent to at least 1/2 month salary for every year of service, a fraction of at least 6 months being considered as one whole year.

This means if you served with increments of 1 month to 5 months, you round down. And if it’s increment of 6 months and up, you round up.

This means that if you’re in the company for 10 years and 2 months, that’s counted as 10 years. And if it’s 10 years and 6 months, that’s already counted as 11 years. Get it?

The longer you stay in a company, the higher the Retirement Pay. Since the factor is 22.5 days for every year of service, a Retired Staff gets almost a 14th month pay for every year of service. Not bad just for sticking by one employer.

Retirement

This is the jurisprudence on why it’s 22.5 days:Amount of RetirementThank you to Ms. Cristina Reclamado for the clarification. 🙂

If Joyce fights with her employer and voluntarily resigns, she gets ZERO. The same goes if Joyce steals from her employer. If she was caught and fired, Joyce will never get a single cent of retirement or separation pay if terminated due to Just Causes. This is the same no matter how long you have been with the company

zero

In summary, there is a difference in pay between the money you get for Retirement than if you got Retrenched, Resigned or if your contract ended.

pay Computation

Retirement or Separation Pay Calculator

Anyway, I’ve taken an Excel course the last week. And because I know a lot of you hate Math, I’ve done this simple Excel sheet to help readers compute for the Estimated Retirement or Separation Pay. You only need to input your 1) Reason for Termination, 2) Daily and Monthly Wages, and 3) No. Years and Months of Service and the calculator should do the work for you.

You can download the Excel below for free:

Retirement Pay Calculator

Download the Excel Here: Final Retirement Pay Calculator (TinainManila.com)

Mind you, I’ve only started tinkering with Excel recently so there may be some bugs or corrections needed on the sheet. If there’s any corrections, please let me know so I can make changes to the formula.

If anyone knows how to embed an Excel table onto WordPress, even better. I’ve tried Calconic but I can’t embed it. While I try my best, I’m just not good at IT.

Last Point — Pick an Employer Who Can Pay for your Separation/Retirement Pay

There are many employers right now who are trying not to get away with paying retirement or separation pay. “We already ran out of money,” they said. “We cannot afford to pay our people their separation pay.”  Or, “These people are agency hired staff. They are not our problem.”

Legally, both points are true:

  1. Bankrupt companies can maneuver their way from paying separation or retirement pay. 
  2. Agency hired employees are employed by the agency, not the Principal. And hence, any “pay” should be shouldered by the agency. 

Regardless, good employers should at least do their part in trying to pay what is right for their employees. Especially when the reason why they don’t want to pay — which is business losses —- are not really true, and all they want to do is save the expense from firing a staff.

Yes, bankrupt companies can escape from paying the full separation pay. Saan sila kukuha ng pera if wala na talaga? However, they cannot prevent the employees from going to DOLE or NLRC to air out their grievances. And in the end, if they lied about being bankrupt and the termination is in bad faith, then they will still be liable in paying a larger amount of money.

What’s more, while it is true that agency hired employees are not the Principal’s problem, this relationship has a lot of gray areas as well. For example, during Christmas, were the agency hired employees invited and participated in the raffle?

Christimas

Did anybody from the Principal provide them with a memo and disciplined them on the spot? If so, it may not be that the agency hired employees are truly agency hired, but the principal is violating DO-174.

The regular 10% fee the agency charges per payroll does not include the price for retrenchment. To be fair, companies have never retrenched in such a grand scale and never at the same time so there is no need for the agency to collect such fee. Historically, the money a principal gives to the agency only contains the agency fee, pro-rata 13th month pay, and the employer share of benefits, among others. Since most employees chose to resign out of their own free will, there is no need to pay them any separation pay. And for upcoming senior citizens, both the business and the agency can plan ahead for such expense years before. So, the financial cost is not a big problem for all parties.

This second half of 2020 is a special time where companies are retrenching or retiring large numbers of people. Given there’s too many people terminated at too short of time, both the companies and the agency will find it hard to pay the separation pay altogether, especially if the company has been in existence for more than 20 years. 

Personally, either you pay now…. or you pay later. Either way, you still pay.

If you don’t pay the correct separation or retirement pay, the employee will and should complain. This is an additional hassle that companies don’t want to have since they’re winding up a business. At the end of the day, if it’s proven that the company still has money and is not really bankrupt, the company and owner will eventually pay more. Not only do you have to pay for the separation pay, but you may also be liable for the 30-day notice period plus backwages, since the staff was illegally terminated on the guise of a retrenchment.

Save yourself the trouble — Use the Calculator if you want. Call your accountant or lawyer to double check the numbers. And once you have set the correct amount, pay for your peace of mind.

Retirement Pay Calculator
Download the Excel Here: Final Retirement Pay Calculator (TinainManila.com)
Calconic Calculator can be Found HERE

Yes, the amount may hurt you a little bit. And yes, it may put a big dent to the savings account. But at least you sleep better knowing wala kang kasalanan sa mundo, and you’ve fired people in good faith without trying to escape your responsibilities. Because at the end of the day, somebody WILL pay. And no matter how much we run away from our accountability, it will still be us. So better, pay now properly na lang para wala nang masabi, and wala nang problema.

no-money-empty-pockets

Happy weekend everyone!

disclaimer - Calculator

 

Posted in Ask Tina in Manila, Business, covid-19, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, How to Manage People, Human Resources (HR), money, Money Issues, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

HR Talk: 16 Common Questions Answered about Probationary Employment in the Philippines

Let’s Talk about Probationary Employment

I have been receiving a lot of questions from probationary employees who found their employment allegedly prematurely ended after the ECQ was lifted. Many have started less than 180 days ago, mostly from January 2020. After the lockdown, probationary employees found themselves unceremoniously unemployed by “heartless” employers who don’t seem to get that they have mouths to feed.

After they’ve been terminated, many of them go to HR forums to post the questions, “Is it right for them to end my employment at a time I need the job the most? Is it fair? And most importantly, is it legal?”

Before we answer these questions, you first have to understand what Probationary Employment means to both employers and employees, and why it’s important to have a probationary period before regularizing a staff. To proceed, here are the Top 15 Questions about Probationary Employment in the Philippines:

16 QuestionsLet’s dive into these questions one by one:

1. How do we define probationary employment?

Probationary employment is closely defined in the Labor Code, Book 6 – Post Employment, Article 281:

Article 281. Probationary employment. Probationary employment shall not exceed six (6) months form the date the employee started working, unless it is covered by an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period. The services of an employee who has been engaged on a probationary basis may be terminated for a just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with reasonable standards made known by the employer to the employee at the time of his engagement. An employee who is allowed to work after a probationary period shall be considered a regular employee.

The IRR of the Labor Code also reiterates the temporary employment of a probationary employee:

Probationary IRRSource: JDP Consulting

From this, we can deduce three important takeaways:

          a. Probationary employment is a trial period where an employer is given time to decide whether the company wants the staff to join the company as a regular employee,

          b. Probationary employment should be 6 months or less, unless there’s a longer apprentice agreement. Exceeding the 180 days of employment will make the probationary staff a regular employees, and

         c. Probationary employees may be terminated for just causes (Their fault) or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with reasonable standards made known to him from the beginning of his/her employment. If “bagsak” siya sa evaluation, employer has the right to terminate his/her employment within the probationary period. 

2. What does Probationary Employment Mean for the Employer?

Before a probationary employee is hired, it must be made very clear to the staff that he/she is coming in as a probationary employee, not a regular employee. The 6-months is his trial period, and he/she must meet the company standards first before he/she can be regularized. If he/she is bagsak, the employer can terminate his/her probationary at any time. For this, I strongly suggest to Employers:

  • Have your lawyer incorporate the terms of probationary employment into the employment contract para walang labuan ng usapan.

contract-of-employment-2

  • Make it very clear to the employee from Day 1 what the standards for regularization are.

Put these standards in writing and have the probationary employee sign it to ensure that it is clear what is expected from him.

If he’s a sales staff, make a written document to cite the sales quotas he is expected to reach. If he’s an office staff, set deadlines on the stuff that he has to submit per day, week or month. Before he starts, the Code of Conduct must be explained to him.

Huwag yung vocal advice lang. Dapat written.

  • If the probationary employment makes a boo boo — ALWAYS have a written documentation on that offense.

If he is often absent/late, always give him a written warning. ChanRobles.com cites that a staff can be cited as gross and habitually late if he’s late at least 10x a month for at least two months in a semester:



Source: ChanRobles.com

For our company, we make an incident report for every mistake and ask the staff to formally explain why such mistake happened. We file the NTE and explanation to their 201 for documentation. If she makes a calculating mistake causing the company to pay the wrong amount, document it in an NTE and ask for her explanation with an acknowledgment that she should not repeat it again.

Build up the documentation in such a way so that in case you terminate, you have a file load of documentation on why you had to terminate her.

It does not mean that you must give a person an incident report to show na iniinitan mo siya. The incident report must be in good faith and given when there’s an actual offense that occured. Dapat maging fair ka din.

I personally give NTEs because I want to show the staff where he did wrong, how he can improve, and how to prevent the mistakes from ever happening again. If the staff can correct his mistakes, why not regularize him, diba?

But how will the staff improve if you don’t tell him how to? That’s why everything must be documented — a) So the staff knows where he did wrong and b) To protect yourself from DOLE cases in case you terminate the staff. Huwag yung vocal warning lang. Dapat may written warning palagi.coach-employees

  • Regularly evaluate the employee in writing

Some people think that you need to evaluate them on the third or fifth month.

This is NOT TRUE. You can evaluate them at any time within the 180 days. Pag may problema, evaluate na agad.

I’ve had probationary staff who I’ve fired within the week. She was late on her first day. She did not show up on her third day because there was nobody to take care of her kids. And she was slow and made frequent mistake. I talked to her and told her that there was no way that she was going to get regularized if she kept up that level of performance. She then decided that her family was more important to her and graciously resigned, solving my problem.

  • Never mislead and give a good evaluation if the probationary employee is not that good.

So many problems could have been very solved if the manager was only honest to the probationary employee as to whether he/she would make a good addition to the team.If you don’t think he/she is a good fit to the organization, do NOT give her a good review.

Just rip off the bandaid and tell him/her what he/she needs to improve so they will.

  • This is not the time to be maawain (to be sympathetic). Be professional. Trabaho lang tayo.

Some employers fail to evaluate the staff because naawa sila that the probationary employee was a breadwinner, had half a dozen of kids, a single mom and pregnant.The problem is, you’re evaluating her for a job, NOT a charity. Judge the staff based on his/her performance, and not for their personal problems. Ironically, it is the awa and that lack of documentation that will bite you in the end.

  • Once it is time to terminate, collect all the written documentation and evaluation you have on the person, cite that in the Notice of Termination, and serve it to the person as humanely and compassionately as possible.

If all the offenses and boo boos have been documented, the sad news will not come as a surprise to the probationary employee.

  • Pay the probationary employee on time. The law says 30 days upon successful clearance.

3. Do we still need to prepare a written warning, memo, or notice to explain regarding the probationary employee’s poor performance before delivering to him the notice of early termination of his/her probationary contract with the company? Is it required?

written
As I mentioned in the earlier point, ALWAYS document offenses regardless of employee status. Don’t stick to verbal warnings. It will not hold up under scrutiny. Always assume that the company is at risk of a DOLE complaint. Always ensure that you have complete documentation so in case the staff will complain, siguradong talo ang staff because their complaint has no basis.

So why would the staff DOLE you if you have enough supporting documents?

The Philippines is unfortunately a pro-Labor country and DOLE will do its job to listen to employee complaints. However, if the complaint has no merit, the arbiter themselves will be the one to sermon the staff and the case will be thrown out the window.

However, having a case is a hassle in both ends. And while the employer will eventually win the case, it’s still a hassle to go through. So why invite yourself to that hassle and expense just because you lacked documentation? Always document your basis for termination para walang talagang problema.

4. How Many Days is a Probationary Employee on Trial Period?

6 months — specifically 180 days.

Under Article 281 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, probationary employment shall NOT exceed six (6) months from the date the employee started working, unless it is covered by an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period. An employee who is allowed to work after a probationary period shall be considered a regular employee. I use this helpful date calculator to count 180 days:

Date Calculator
Do NOT go over the 180 days. Otherwise, the probationary staff is already a regular employee on his 181st day.

In a 2015 ruling, Enchanted Kingdom Inc vs. Verzo, GR No. 209559, December 9, 2015, the probationary employee was terminated on the 180th day. The Employer won this case as the law allowed termination of a probationary at the very last day of his probation period. Emphasizing that notice and hearing are not required in case a probationary is not retained for failure to comply with the reasonable standards set by his employer, the Supreme Court outright said:

” Whether or not Verzo was afforded the opportunity to explain his side is of no consequence.”

5. Can you fire the probation employee one month after you’ve employed her for poor job performance?

Thanks to Lawyers in the Philippines for the explanation —  The Supreme Court has sustained a dismissal only one month into the probationary period provided that there is basis for the employer’s assessment. [Canadian Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. vs. Dalangin, 2012]

Lesson Learned: If you’re given a chance to be a probationary employee, WORK HARD and PROVE YOUR WORTH. Come early, be focused, do the work and be someone the team wants to have. Because once you received the notice of poor performance, that’s it. You had 6 months to prove your work, but didn’t.

6. What does this mean for the probationary employee?

The conditions are clear — You are on trial period. It’s sink or swim. So within this 6 months period, you have to really deliver results, exhibit good working attitude, and work your way so that you will be regularized. If you can deliver, you will and SHOULD be regularized. If not, you will be terminated.

Sink

  • Conversion to permanent status shall be primarily conditioned and dependent upon satisfactory service and performance of the work assigned. It is within the exclusive discretion of the Company to determine whether or not such service is satisfactorily performed and whether the Employee has successfully passed/complied with established standards for regularization.
  • These standards, among others, include the following criteria: dependability, trustworthiness, efficiency, initiative, attitude towards work/the public/the Company, its officers and co-employees, cooperation, client response, judgment, punctuality, quality/quantity of work, educability, articulateness and professionalism.

The Company reserves its rights to terminate probationary employment, even prior to the expiration of the probationary period, for any of the just and authorized causes provided by the existing law or for the Employee having failed to satisfactorily meet and comply with the above-mentioned standards, conditions and requirements.

IMPORTANT: If you are unhappy with the terms of the contract, DO NOT ENTER INTO A PROBATIONARY EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT. Ask for a regular employment contract.

What’s most annoying to employers is a Probationary Employee who agreed to the terms of his/her employment, and then later on, pag bagsak sa evaluation and gets terminated, runs straight to DOLE and complains about the contract he/she willingly entered in the first place. Such employees are Kryptonite to employers.

7. What if the 180 days had lapsed without a “talk” or a Notice of Termination? They have not given me a Regularization Contract? What’s my status?

Congratulations, the Probationary Staff is now a regular employee! You don’t need a talk or regularization contract to say you are, because you now are!congrats

8. Can the Employer Extend Probationary Employment Beyond the 6 Months Period?

I will derive my answer from Mr. Sonnie Santos’ article about Probationary Employment. An employer can extend the probationary employment beyond the 6 months IF:

(1) It is covered by an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period (Art 282); Buiser vs. Leogardo, Jr. G.R. No. L-63316 July 31, 1984

(2) Probationary period may be extended as an act of liberality to give an employee another chance if the latter failed to meet performance expectations:

For aught that appears of record, the extension of Dequila’s probation was ex gratia, an act of liberality on the part of his employer affording him a second chance to make good after having initially failed to prove his worth as an employee. Such an act cannot now unjustly be turned against said employer’s account to compel it to keep on its payroll one who could not perform according to its work standards. The law, surely, was never meant to produce such an inequitable result.

By voluntarily agreeing to an extension of the probationary period, Dequila (employee) in effect waived any benefit attaching to the completion of said period if he still failed to make the grade during the period of extension. The Court finds nothing in the law which by any fair interpretation prohibits such a waiver. And no public policy protecting the employee and the security of his tenure is served by prescribing voluntary agreements which, by reasonably extending the period of probation, actually improve and further a probationary employee’s prospects of demonstrating his fitness for regular employment. 

Source: Mariwasa Manufacturing, Inc. v. Leogardo, Jr., Dequila, G.R. No. 74246, 26 January 1989

(3) There is a condition that’s beyond the employees control that affects his performance (e.g., a health problem, miscarriage, giving birth or forced leave). Or a sudden negative or business climate that’s unexpected and considered force majeur.

9. How do you extend a Probationary Employment if You Want to Give an Employee a Second Chance If the Proby Employee Fails to Make the Cut?

IMPORTANT: A company should consider to extend a probationary employment if the staff requests for it and asks for a second chance, in the hopes of being regularized. Hence, it would be better if there’s a written request for extension made from his side.

To extend a probationary employment, it is important that the decision to extend must be agreed on BY BOTH COMPANY AND EMPLOYEE. The agreement must be:

a) Made BEFORE the expiration of the probationary period, not after,

b) Preferably done because the Probationary Employee requested for it. Hence, it would be better if there’s a written request for extension made from his side,

c) The agreement is clear the extension of probationary employment is only because the staff did not meet the standards for regularization within the 6 months, citing the failed results of the performance evaluation.

d) Given the request, management is giving the staff a SET TIME and a SECOND CHANCE to work and see if such decision would be reversed and changed. The terms for extension must be clear and time bound, and

e) The extension agreement must be also signed by the employee signalling his consent.

Here is a sample of how a Probationary Employment Extension Letter in Filipino looks like. Regardless, I would still prefer that the request comes from the staff so it’s cleaner and more proper.

How long can you extend a Probationary Employment?

The extended period has no legal limitations, but LegalGuide’s safe recommendation is 2-3 months max. Basta, not too long. Enough to show lang that you’re giving the probationary employee a chance to see if it’s a good fit.

In our company, I extend it for a total of 4 months only. Beyond the four months, we have to make the decision as to whether to regularize the probationary employee or to terminate his employment kasi hindi niya talaga kaya yung trabaho. The 4-months is mutually agreed on and is cited in the Extension.

10. Do Probationary Employees Get Severance Pay When Terminated?

Technically, a Probationary Employee when terminated is not entitled to Separation Pay if a) He was terminated for Just Causes (Meaning to say, ikaw ang may mali), orJust Causes

b) If the employee failed to satisfactorily meet and comply with the reasonable standards, conditions and requirements made known to him at the time of his engagement.

Fail

Pag bagsak ka sa evaluation, final pay lang.  So an employer needs to ensure he has the written evaluation to show that the employee has failed the reasonable requirements for regularization so that the company does not need to give final pay.

However, you will get Separation Pay if the reason of termination was Retrenchment or Redundancy.

Article 283 of the Labor Code states that:

Art. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. — The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the installation of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice on the workers and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor saving devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or under taking not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year.

The Labor Code indicates that all workers — Probationary or Regular Employees — are entitled to separation pay if they were terminated under the following conditions:

separation-pay

Separation pay is 1 MONTH OF PAY because minimum amount of separation pay is  1 month since probationary employees have not yet reached a year of service.

11. Will the Probationary Employee Gets Separation Pay When the Staff Resigns?

Unless your boss is super nice, you will get ZERO separation pay if the resignation was voluntary. This is not just for probationary employees. Even if you worked for 25 years, if you resign, your employer is NOT obliged to give you any separation pay UNLESS there was a prior agreement that they would give you one.

resignation

12. Can Probationary Employees Whose Employment Ended Avail of the SSS Involuntary Unemployment Benefits?

Short Answer — NO if you got terminated for Just Causes or for Failing the Reasonable Standards for Non-Regularization.

YES if you got terminated for Authorized Causes:img_2748

The SSS Involuntary Unemployment Program is the newest among the benefits being offered by SSS. This program allows qualified SSS members who are involuntarily separated from work to claim for a cash allowance equivalent to two times his average monthly salary credit. Here’s How to Apply:

10 Questions Answered Re: SSS Involuntary Separation Insurance Program Worth Up to Php 20,000 Max

The cash grant is worth 50% of the member’s average monthly salary credit (MSC) for two months. If you earn Php 14,000.00 or the minimum wage — meaning, your company has deposited Php 1,690.00 total per month — the Monthly Salary Credit is Php 14,000. The cash grant is worth 50% of the member’s average monthly salary credit (MSC), so following the table, you will get Php 7,000 per month. The program will last for only two months.

Php 14000

NOTE: If two or more compensable contingencies occurred within the same period, SSS will only pay the highest benefit from the recorded contingencies. They are given one year from the time of their separation to file for their benefit claim.

Member-applicant must have paid at least 36 monthly contributions.

IMPORTANT: 12 months of the 36 months should have been paid within the 18-month period prior to the month of involuntary separation.

13. Is the ECQ included in the 6-Month Probationary Period?

As explained in Labor Advisory No. 14 and Labor Advisory No. 14-A, Series of 2020:

Series

Labor 14-A

This means, the ECQ period is NOT counted in the probationary period of 6 months if you have temporarily stopped working. So if you started in January 2, 2020 and you were supposed to be regularized 180 days later, the ECQ period from March 17 to May 30 (2.5 months) for example is NOT counted IF you are at home resting.

It’s is only counted if you worked during the ECQ be it as a Work From Home (WFH) or skeletal force. If so, count the number of actual days you worked (or calendar days if non-stop) to see how many days in ECQ did you work.

14. I have enough documentation to terminate a Probationary Employee for failing the standards of regularization. What do I need to do next? 

The law is clear — the Employer do not need a notice or hearing to terminate a probationary employee who has failed due to poor work quality. However, you do need to provide a Written Notice of Termination to Terminate a Probationary Employee

A Written Notice of Termination is Crucial When Terminating a Probationary Employee 

According to Section 2, Rule 1, Book VI of the Implementing Rules, a written notice must be served to the employee, within reasonable time from the effective termination date IF the termination is brought about by the completion of a contract or phase, or by failure of an employee to meet the standards of the employer in the case of probationary employment. If there is no written notice, but only of a verbal inform that the probationary employment would be terminated, the dismissal will have no legal sanction. (Tamson’s Enterprises, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, Sy, G.R. No. 192881, 16 November 2011).

Source: Laborlaw.ph, Probationary Employment Contract Under Philippine Law

If the work of your probationary employee is found to be unsatisfactory, you’ll need to serve him a written notice of Termination of Probationary Employment. You can dismiss a probationary employee without notice or hearing because this is just a trial period. Just make sure that you have enough documentation to back up the decision on why he failed the standards for regularization.  The two notice rule does NOT apply if a probationary employee is dismissed for poor work quality.

If it’s under Just Causes, the twin notice rules should be followed. I will quote directly from the Philippine e-Legal Forum because they give a wonderful summary of the twin notice rule:

DUE PROCESS IN JUST CAUSES

There are two written notices that must be complied with in order for a dismissal, based on just cause, to be valid. Note that “valid dismissal” is used in a general context, as the failure to comply with the requirements of procedural due process does not make the dismissal “illegal,” but entitles the employee to the payment of damages (discussed in a separate post). It is also important to emphasize that the twin notices must be WRITTEN. A verbal notice is equivalent to no notice. 

(a) FIRST WRITTEN NOTICE. The first written notice should contain:

“Reasonable period” should be construed as a period of at least five (5) calendar days from receipt of the notice to give the employee an opportunity to study the accusation, consult or be represented by a lawyer or union officer, gather data and evidence, and decide on the defenses against the complaint.

(b) AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD. After serving the first notice, the employer should afford the employee ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself/herself with the assistance of his/her representative if he/she so desires, as provided in Article 299 (b) of the Labor Code, as amended. “Ample opportunity to be heard” means any meaningful opportunity (verbal or written) given to the employee to answer the charges against him/her and submit evidence in support of his/her defense, whether in a hearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way. 

The old requirements specifically calls for a twin-notice and hearing. This has been revised because, based on jurisprudence, a hearing is merely a component of the right to be heard. A hearing is not required in all cases. A formal hearing or conference becomes mandatory only when:

(c) SECOND WRITTEN NOTICE. After determining that termination of employment is justified, the employer shall serve the employee a written notice of termination indicating that: 

The foregoing notices shall be served personally to the employee or to the employee’s last known address.

15. I am a Probationary Employee, x-Months Pregnant and was Terminated for Failing the Reasonable Standards for Regularization. Is it Legal for the Company to Terminate Me For Inhumane Reasons? Kawawa naman may new baby ako? How Will I Still get My SSS Maternity Benefit Claim?

If you are pregnant and was hired as a probationary employee, please DO NOT use your pregnancy as the reason why a company should regularize you.

pregnant

I personally don’t think that employees should use their Pregnancy, Gender, Age, Race, Family Problems or Health Condition as a reason on why an Employer should retain their employment IF they are truly unfit for the job or have failed the reasonable standards for regularization.

I have seen Pregnant Women who demand employers to give them a day off per 2 weeks because they needed to go for an OB appointment. Or they have asked their employer for special concessions given their delicate state. As a mother myself, I know how hard it is to get and stay pregnant. However, I have never used my pregnancy against my employer, nor have I ever given them a reason to sack me because pa-absent absent ako ng pabigla bigla sa trabaho due to a delicate pregnancy.

There are delicate pregnancies that require employees to have a Medical Leave of Absence as backed with an OB order. When this happens, stay at home and do months long of bedrest. For such conditions, care must be given to the mother. During this time, your LOA is NOT counted as part of your probationary employment.

However, if you are pregnant and this has caused you to slack off or not perform as well on the job, please do not fault your employer for not regularizing you because given the condition, hindi mo naman talaga magawa yung trabaho. 

Doon lang tayo sa Performance, shall we?

If you can do the job well and can outperform everyone else, you SHOULD be regularized regardless on whether you have a baby in your belly or not. If you are a recent graduate but can do the job of a 10 year experienced employee, you should be promoted and given higher pay. Doon lang tayo sa performance.

Please do not hostage your employer and they you should get VIP treatment because you are Pregnant, Old, Have more kids than your colleague or have more problems. When you were hired, the terms of employment was explained to you. It would be best to stick to such terms of employment when evaluating an employee. No matter what, always be professional and leave gracefully. Don’t burn bridges.

Resignation letter

As for the SSS Maternity Benefit?

If you were terminated by your employer for failing the reasonable standards for regularization, don’t fret. As part of your final pay, request as well from your employer a Certificate of Non Advancement of Maternity Benefit. You can use this document to apply for SSS Maternity Benefit as a voluntary member.

Download: Certificate of Non Advancement of SSS Maternity Benefit HERE:

Certificate of Non Advancement16. What will my Final Pay Consist of? 

According to Labor Advisory No. 6, Series of 2020, the Final Pay of Employees consists of:Final Pay
Note that separation pay will only be paid if the probationary employee is terminated for Authorized causes. For almost all Probationary Employee, Final Pay consists of:

Unpaid Wages + Pro-Rata 13th Month Pay – Liabilities = Final Pay

FINAL WORDS

I have read far too many posts lately of probationary employees complaining about their employers. Of businesses so cruel in quickly terminating their employment at the time they need a job the most. They ask what is the basis for their bosses to say that they’ve failed to make the grade of regularization. They take the rejection personally, and want to run to DOLE to complain at the next available opportunity.

Most of my readers know me as a reasonable person. If there is a clear abuse, I will not stop myself from telling the staff to run and escalate the problem to DOLE. However, most of the posts I read are mostly complaints against their former employers. The question I ask myself is, “Given that you have a lot of complaints against your employer and your boss, why are you still contesting your termination as if you want to be reinstated and given back your job? Now that you know what type of company/employer they are, why do you want to go back?”

For me, if the probationary staff is excellent — As in no lates, no absences, no work attitude problems, consistent and smooth work — the staff should indeed be regularized. Good people are hard to find, so for me, kung maayos ang tao, don’t fire them kung magaling sila. I-regularize mo na lang.

Personally, I feel that if the staff is excellent, laging may trabaho. If a staff works well, even if natanggal dahil proby status, mabilis pa din maghanap ng work. As they say, “If you’re really good, it’s the company’s loss. Not the staff.”

However, if the staff is nalalate, maraming excuse kung bakit pa-absent absent, does not double check the work and commits regular boo boos, then companies should man up and not regularize them. Huwag nang maawa. Just rip off the bandage.

The 6 months is a trial period for both employees and employers. Both sides must have their eyes wide open to decide if they’re a good fit for each other. If they are, continue the employment. If they’re not bagay, cut it off na. Huwag nang patagalin pa.

Simple lang naman — A probationary employee should work their ass off in the 6-month time given them. If they are good, great. They should be regularized. If they are bagsak, accept the truth and find another job that’s a better fit for you. And if you get rejection, cry at home and move on. Who knows? Maybe God has better plans for you.

Pero UNLESS there is abuse, huwag tumakbo sa DOLE. Because if you do, it will be even harder to find another job. Kasi parang ang labo kausap ang staff. They know from the onset that they’re entering into a probationary employment and have 6 months to prove that they are deserving of regularization. Pero for whatever reason, they did not make the cut. Ngayong natanggal kasi bagsak sa performance, magrereklamo.

What does that mean? Sino ang magulo? Ang employer or ang employee?

My advice?

Move on, find another job, and live another day.

A New Day Quotes www.mostphrases.blogspot.com

Take this as a positive experience na lang. One day, you will find the job that’s really right for you. And you will remember that it is this probationary experience that made you the person you are today, and you will thank me later on for stopping you from sabotaging your employment record, so that you can find a better job in the future.

Anyway, it’s late. If there’s any correction to the above, please PM me. Have a great week ahead!

Additional References:
LaborLaw.ph, Probationary Employment Contract Under Philippine Labor Law

Disclaimer

Posted in Advice, Business, covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Legal Talk, Philippines, Polarizing Opinion, Pregnancy, Question & Answer, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

HR Talk: SSS Members with Over 36 Hulogs Can Now Apply for the SSS Calamity Loan Program Online (Max: Php 20,000 Loan)

1. What is the SSS Calamity Loan Program (CLAP)?

The SSS has launched another awesome initiative to help members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — the Calamity Loan Assistance Program (CLAP). Qualified applicants can borrow up to one month  of their Monthly Salary Credit and pay for it over 2 years + 3 month period at a cheap interest rate of 6% per year.

SSS Calamity

The best thing about the program is how easy it will be to apply for. For one, application will be online, and very minimal requirements are needed to avail of the money.

It is open to all Filipinos living in the Philippines. The program is open for 3 months from June 15, 2020 until September 14, 2020. An estimate number of 1.74 million people will benefit.

CLAP

2. How Much Money Can I Borrow from the SSS?

Short Answer: Your Average One Month MSC based on your hulog.

SSS computes the actual loan amount by getting the average of the loan applicant’s monthly Monthly Salary Credit (MSCs) over the last 12 months of employment. To check your average ONE-monthly salary credit (MSC), let’s look at the New SSS Contribution Table to see how much we can get.

See the red box — That’s how much you can borrow based on how much contributions you need to pay:

SSS-Contribution-1

Example, if you earn Php 14,000.00 or the minimum wage — meaning, your company has deposited Php 1,690.00 total per month — your Monthly Salary Credit is Php 14,000.

Php 14000

So why did they say the Calamity Loan is Php 20,000?

It depends on how much SSS contributions you are paying. You can loan up to Php 20,000 if you paid for the maximum contribution per month.

Take a look at the chart again — If your salary is Php 25,000 and your company deposits a higher Php 2,430.00 per month for your SSS benefits, you get the max Php 20,000 One-Monthly Salary Credit to borrow.  That’s why people who pay more can loan more.

Php 20,000

3. What are the Special Feature of the SSS’ COVID-19 CLAP vs. other SSS Loans?

Since the impact of COVID-19 is bigger than most other calamities, this version of CLAP has the following benefits:

a) Loan payment term of CLAP is 27 months instead of the usual 24 months. This version of SSS CLAP is inclusive of a 3-month moratorium period. “Moratorium” means that you do not have to pay for the first 3 months. The first payment will be on the 4th month which is great use for borrowers

b) Interest rate is at a lowered to 6% per year. SSS loan interest are usually 10% so this is a boon to borrowers. The interest charge will only start on the 4th month after your loan get approved. Interest would be computed “on a diminishing principal balance.”

c) Loan payment for COVID-19 calamity loans will begin in the fourth month from their approval dates. No advanced interest will be charged for the said loan.

d) The service fee of one percent of the loan amount is allegedly waived and will not be deducted in proceeds.

d) Very minimal requirements are needed to apply. Just complete the Online Application form, and if you’re qualified, you will get the money. Waaaaah!

excited

e) Here’s a disadvantage — If you do not remit your loan payments on time on the due date, you will be charged a 1% penalty per month. So pay on time. Yikes!

loan repayment

4. What are the Qualifications of Successful SSS Calamity Loan Applicants?

a) You must still be a non-delinquent SSS member.

b) Member beneficiaries must have at least 36 monthly contributions, six of which should be posted within the last 12 months before the application.

For example, if you want to loan today on June 16, you need to hulog your SSS contributions 6x from June 16, 2019 to June 16, 2020.

c)  You need to have a home or home address within the Philippines REGISTERED in the SSS database. Anyone living in the Philippines can apply since the entire country is in a state of calamity.

d) You have not been granted any final benefit such as total permanent disability or retirement, and

e) You have NO outstanding loans under the Loan Restructuring Program or previous CLAPs.

5. How to Apply for the SSS Calamity Loan Program?

Members must also be registered at the My.SSS web portal on the SSS website at www.sss.gov.ph to apply for the loan. If you’re not yet registered, go to your local SSS branch to register. This site offers a step-by-step guide on how to register in the SSS website.

Quick TIP: The best time to apply for the loan is at 3am in the morning especially in the first few hours of website launch.

Here’s the two things you will need to apply for CLAP:

  1. Completed Calamity Loan Assistance Program Form — These will be accessed online through the website http://www.sss.gov.ph. Go and log on under eServices to see Calamity Loan. This is the first time SSS will offer Calamity Loans through an online facility so be patient and prepare for bugs in the first few days of opening.

view-contribution-step-2Photo Source: Mattscradle.com

What it looks like now:

2. One (1) Primary ID or Two (2) Secondary IDs — Must have signature and at least one with photo

Ids

6. How long do I get my money after processing my SSS Calamity Loan? 

SSS salary loans take longer to process at around 2 to 3 weeks, whether you apply online or at an SSS branch. So you have to ensure you have enough money to tide you over before the loan proceeds arrive. I am unsure if it will be faster this time due to COVID-19 but 2-3 weeks is the average lead time to access the cash.

7. How will I receive my money? 

Three ways: 

a) ATM withdrawal through their Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) card. You need to have your UMID card activated for ATM functionality.

b) Check sent to their preferred mailing address.

c) Citibank or Unionbank Quick Card. Though this site says that applicants only need to identify the bank account where the SSS can deposit the loan.

8. How Can I Pay for the Loan?

For self-employed or voluntary members, monthly installments can be remitted to any SSS branch or any accredited banks and payment centers. For loan payments, only SSS will accept individual loan payments.

Loan Payment

For individual members, you can get your Payment Reference Number (PRN) via the two methods:

• Text SSS Service (To register, text SSS REG <SS Number> <Date of Birth> and send to 2600. Note: Charges may apply.)

• Registering in the SSS website under the My.SSS. to generate a PRN online. To register, here’s a quick guide on how to register via My.SSS.

For employed members, SSS CLAP can be paid monthly via salary deduction. If employed, the employer should deduct the loan payment from the payroll and remit the loan amount on behalf of the staff.

Repayment
IMPORTANT #1: Do NOT delay payment as interest charged is 1% per month for any late payments. 

IMPORTANT #2: If the member quits his/her job, the employer should deduct the total remainder of the loan and remit it in FULL to the SSS.  

Responsibility

9. How Can I Inquire for More Information Re: SSS Loan?

For more questions, email member_relations@sss.gov.ph or go to their Facebook page: Philippine Social Security System @sssPH.

The loan will be applied for online and inquiries will also be answered for online.

10. Basis on SSS Calamity Loan Program:

IMG_3177IMG_3178IMG_3179IMG_3180

CORRECTION as of June 18:

Kahit na may salary loan, you can still apply for a SSS calamity loan so long as you have at least 36 monthly contributions, six of which should be posted within the last 12 months before the application. For example, if you want to loan today on June 16, you need to hulog your SSS contributions 6x from June 16, 2019 to June 16, 2020.

So pwede kang may salary loan + calamity loan na top up. Walang bawas sa salary loan mo yung calamity loan. Hiwalay yon. Yung may bawas, yung Pagibig Calamity Loan. NOT the SSS Calamity Loan.

NOTE: You will be disqualified for CLAP IF:

1. You already received your final benefit such as total permanent disability, pension or retirement, and

2. You have outstanding loans under the Loan Restructuring Program or previous CLAPs.

Approval is 2-3 days. No need for employer signature. This is direct approved by SSS. Check will be received 2-3 weeks.

Employee can pay for Calamity Loan direct to SSS para on time ang payment. Delayed payment incur 1% per month penalty on top of the 6% per year interest. Kaya dapat magbayad on time.

If may error, just log on again. This program is less than a week old so they are improving the system. Good luck.

References:

SSS Members Can Apply Online for Up to Php 20,000 in 2 Weeks, Filipino Times

 

 

Posted in covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Finance, money, Work | Tagged , , , , , | 35 Comments

Business Hack: Always Check the Breakdown (Version 2)

Problem 1: Requisition Request for Disinfecting Materials 

My relative is the Treasurer of the Condominium Board of Trustees, and has asked me to double check the replenishment report of the administrative secretary.

The administrative secretary asked for Php 30,339.50 to replenish some disinfecting supplies for the condominium. Here was her request:

Requisition Form

Let me give you a few minutes to look through the list.

What do you think of her request?  Kindly note that the list looks normal and contains all the materials required by the government for a condo building to have.

If you were the Treasurer, what would you do? Would you write a check for Php 30,339.50? Please scroll down below for my reply when you are done.

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My Answer to Problem 1: Requisition Request for Disinfecting Materials 

After I looked through the list, here were my comments:

Requisition Form2

In particular, these were the ones that stood out from me. Based on my own research, these are the market prices of the following items:

Savings

For the PPE Suite, I would source it online or from this group. I bought our Tafetta PPE for Php 370.00 from an online seller named Liz. We are a small business so we do not need the hospital grade PPE. We only need two in case we have a suspected case in the office.

TafettaFor surgical masks, I know people who are selling at Php 650. However, some people are selling at Php 350 to Php 500 a box.

Maybe the Php 2,300 for a box of 3-ply surgical mask is most likely a typo. But if you’re requesting for money, always double check and triple check before you submit to the Members of the Board.

As for the pressure sprayer, I can get from Lazada, while the handwash and alcohol can be sourced at 3.5 Liters in NUDE Essentials.

Problem 2: The Association Dues Bill

Take a look at the Association Dues Bill that we received last year — At 88.47 + 12.5 sqm parking area = 100.96 sqm, with a rate of Php 108.33/sqm, the total is Php 17,950.26. Multiply the amount by Php 17,950.26 x 3 months, the total association dues now cost Php 53,850.64. Make sense?

Here’s the breakdown:

Assoc dues

After checking the numbers, will you ask your finance manager to issue the check by the due date? Is this a go?

Have a think. Please scroll down below for my reply when you are done.

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My Answer to Problem 2: The Association Dues Bill

Please take out your calculator and punch the numbers on the bill.

calculator

Here’s my computation:

Assoc dues2

A word of warning — it does NOT mean that a bill is computerized, it is correct. As you can see, the billing was incorrect.

All the numbers are in order and printed well, but the computation is wrong. Anyone who has a calculator can compute the correct answer. However, most finance managers just look at the bill and issue a check, not knowing that they are paying Php 21,036.60 more per quarter or Php 7,012.20 per month.

Always Instill a Habit of Double Checking and Triple Checking Work

If you are running a business, always instill a habit in your people of double- and triple-checking the work. When my staff gave me the bills to pay, I used the above mentioned example as a learning exercise, which is why, they always double check the amounts before they submit it to me for reimbursal.

The numbers may be big or small, but when you’re running a business, every little bit counts. Always double check the details, so you won’t have to lose money unnecessarily without you knowing it.

Posted in Advice, Business, entrepreneurship, Finance, Life lessons, Philippines, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HR Talk: 10 Questions Answered Re: SSS Involuntary Separation Insurance Program Worth Up to Php 20,000 Max

Today, GMW News Online published this article, creating a ruckus in the HR Field:

GMA News

Source: SSS members who lost jobs to receive up to P20,000 cash benefit, June 9, 2020

When the employees saw the Php 20,000 cash benefit, biglang lumaki ang mata ng mga tao. “Wow, ang laki!!!! Apply tayo!” 

Surprised

After the SBWS’ Php 16,000 (Max of NCR), workers are now super curious on how to avail of this wonderful program that gives them Php 20,000, especially now that so many people are being laid off or have resigned from their positions.

That’s why we are going to talk about this topic.

To be honest, gulat ako by how excited people are re: SSS Unemployment Benefit. Actually, matagal na ang SSS Unemployment Benefit na yan. The unemployment benefit, one of the landmark provisions of Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, is the seventh benefit program of the SSS. Member-applicants may be granted a cash benefit equivalent to half of their average monthly salary credit (AMSC) for a maximum of 2 months.

Here’s 10 Questions Answered on How To Apply for the SSS Unemployment Benefit

How-to-Apply-for-SSS-Unemployment-Benefit-1280x720

1. What is the SSS Unemployment Program?

The Unemployment benefit program is the newest among the benefits being offered by SSS. This program allows qualified SSS members who are involuntarily separated from work to claim for a cash allowance equivalent to two times his average monthly salary credit. Beneficiaries include household employees and overseas Filipino workers.

unemployment

The purpose of the program is very noble, as the money will allow the SSS members some financial liberty during times of unemployment. The program is patterned with similar programs in Europe. The member can use the money:

  1. To find another job after they were involuntarily separated from work.
  2. To take up courses to improve themselves to find a better job.
  3. To use for their everyday needs.

For more details on the SSS Unemployment Benefits, see the Brochure Here.

2. How much Money Can Qualified Applicants Get for the Unemployed Benefit?

The cash grant is worth 50% of the member’s average monthly salary credit (MSC) for two months. See attached for how much you will get:

SSS-Contribution-1

Example, if you earn Php 14,000.00 or the minimum wage — meaning, your company has deposited Php 1,690.00 total per month — the Monthly Salary Credit is Php 14,000. The cash grant is worth 50% of the member’s average monthly salary credit (MSC), so following the table, you will get Php 7,000 per month. The program will last for only two months.

Php 14000

NOTE: If two or more compensable contingencies occurred within the same period, SSS will only pay the highest benefit from the recorded contingencies. They are given one year from the time of their separation to file for their benefit claim.

3. So why did they say the Unemployment Benefit is Php 20,000?

Take a look at the chart again — If you make Php 25,000 and your company deposits Php 2,430.00 per month for your SSS benefits, you get a max Php 20,000 Monthly Salary Credit.

Php 20,000

At 50% of Php 20,000, that’s Php 10,000 per month for two months.

peso-20200415

This is why you will get an Unemployment Benefit of Php 20,000 in total.

4. Who is Qualified for the Unemployment Benefit?

a. The applicant should be a member of SSS. If you’re not even part of SSS, you are NOT qualified. If you are a voluntary contributer, you are NOT qualified.

b. Member-applicant must have paid at least 36 monthly contributions.

IMPORTANT: 12 months of the 36 months should have been paid within the 18-month period prior to the month of involuntary separation.

c. There is an Age Requirement:

a. For everyone else, you must be 60 years old or below at the time of separation.
b. For racehorse jockeys, aged 55 years old and below.
c. For Underground and surface mine workers, age should be 50 years old and below.

d. You can only claim it once every three years from the date of involuntary separation.

e. You did NOT resign voluntarily. That’s why it’s called Involuntary Unemployed. Once you quit, you are NOT eligible for the program.

quitjob

f. You must have been fired due to the following AUTHORIZED causes:

g. You did not get laid off due to Just Causes. If so, you are NOT QUALIFIED for the Involuntary Separation Insurance Pay:

Just Causes

5. How much Total Budget is Allocated to the Involuntary Separation Insurance Program?

The SSS said that Php 178 million worth of benefits were released in 2019 under its unemployment benefit or involuntary separation insurance program, which is one of the key features of Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 which took effect on March 5, 2019.

sss

As of December 2019, there is enough budget. In response to a query by Dominguez, SSS Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary Edgar Cruz said the SSS is ready, at the minimum, to provide P660 million for the unemployment benefits of affected SSS members, and up to P1.2 billion under a worst-case scenario.

The average unemployment benefit that qualified members receive is about P11,000.

Assuming that the 60,000 workers in the worst-case scenario will be dislocated and avail themselves of the benefit, this would amount to around P660 million, Cruz said.

If the computation is based on the maximum cash benefit of P20,000 per applicant, the total amount will reach P1.2 billion, he said.

Cruz said with the current cash position of the SSS at P21 billion, it can well afford to pay unemployment benefits, given that P660 million is just a fraction of the more than P16 billion that SSS paid monthly for members’ pensions in 2019.

6. What are the Chances of Me Being Approved?

Pretty high IF you are qualified.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said that out of 15,151 unemployment benefit applications in 2019, 14,895 were approved (98.31%). This translated to Php 178 million of benefit releases.

7. What are the Requirements to Apply for this Special Benefit?

Workers who are involuntarily separated from work need to secure the DOLE’s Certificate of Separation from Employment/Unemployment from the Department of Labor and Employment to avail of an unemployment insurance.

Applicants are required to submit to any SSS local branch or foreign office:

A. A DOLE-issued certification establishing the nature and date of involuntary separation

You can get them here — The electronic filing facility can be accessed through DOLE-NCR’s official website at https://ncr.dole.gov.ph or at https://tinyurl.com/dolencr-efiling. It takes them ONE WEEK to get back to you.

B. Notice of Termination from the employer or the Affidavit of Termination of Employment.

Here’s a sample of Affidavit ot Termination of Employment:

C. An original and photocopy of one primary ID card or document. If you don’t have a primary ID, any two ID cards/documents, both with signature and at least one with photo. Here’s a list of Primary IDs accepted by SSS:

primary ID

8. How do I get the DOLE Certification of Separation from Employment?

You need to secure the DOLE’s Certificate of Separation from Employment/ Unemployment from DOLE first to avail of an unemployment insurance. It is a primary requisite for the application for payment of unemployment insurance or involuntary separation benefit of the Social Security System (SSS). You can apply it from the DOLE Field/Provincial Office where the employer is located or where the employee resides.

Applicants must be able to present one (1) valid identification card (ID) and a copy of the Notice of Termination or a duly notarized Affidavit of Termination of Employment.

“For the issuance of this certification, the DOLE will do its best to observe the one day Process Cycle Time. The certification should be duly signed by the Head of the Field/Provincial Offices of the DOLE,” said DOLE-7 Regional Director Salome O. Siaton.

The issuance of the DOLE certification is pursuant to Department Circular No. 01-2019 or the Guidelines on the Issuance of DOLE Certification as a Requirement for Application for Payment of Unemployment Insurance or Involuntary Separation Benefit.

In the case of OFWs, they may file their application at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office where their employer operates or at the DOLE Field/Provincial Office where the OFW resides.

This is the labor advisory re: DOLE certification issuance:

9. How will I receive the Payment?

The benefit will be credited to the savings account under the member’s UMID card enrolled as ATM or Union Bank of Philippines (UBP) Quick Card.

UMID

If the member has no UMID card enrolled as ATM or UBP Quick Card, the member will be instructed by the branch to open or avail of the UBP Quick Card to have their benefit automatically credited to their savings account and can be availed thru UBP Kiosks in selected SSS branches nationwide.

Here’s how to apply for an SSS UMID ID.

10. Why does the SSS need a lot of requirements from me? Magbibigay na ng pera. Pahihirapan ka pa nila!

The toughest thing about living in the Philippines is that you’re already helping out your fellowmen, pero magrereklamo pa sila. Sila pa ang galit.

Look, the SSS Unemployment Benefit is ASSISTANCE given by the SSS to its qualified members. It’s NOT a loan. It’s FREE money that you don’t have to pay back IF YOU ARE QUALIFIED.

Kung hindi ka qualified, then naturally, you cannot avail of the benefit. If you did not have enough contributions, SSS is not obliged to give you a single cent because you’re not even a member of this program. When this happens, huwag nang magalit. Hindi kasalanan ng SSS na hindi kayo naghuhulog ng contributions.

Let this be a valuable lesson to everyone — Always ensure that if you’re employed, to be registered in SSS. Because there’s a lot of benefits you can get from the Social Security System Program which not only includes the Unemployment Benefits but the following:

SSS 1SSS 2

Good luck and please proceed to the nearest SSS branch for any more queries!

Sources: 
DOLE certificate needed for unemployment insurance, October 7, 2019
DOLE Guidelines on unemployment insurance certification out, August 6, 2019

Disclaimer

Posted in Business, covid-19, Employee Relations, entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Human Resources (HR), money, Money Issues, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), Philippines, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments