In times of calamities and natural disasters, usually there’s chaos and disruption on how things normally turn out. But laws are there to bring order into society even when everything seems to fall apart.
For those who are running their private business or working as employees in the private sector, legislations serve as their guide on what they should do during extraordinary circumstances. It also exists to protect their rights against abuse and to help settle conflict with one another.
The issue of work during disasters might seem easy, but it is not always as simple as stores closing and employees not going to work because there are still emergency work and services that must be done. And even if business is suspended or employees can’t get to work, there are still numerous employment laws that are in effect.These laws are also constant reminders to HRs that catastrophes bring pay and benefits issues that they should prepare for. Employers must also be knowledgeable of these employment laws implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for private companies. In line with that, we are here to discuss them to help spread awareness.
DOLE recently issued the timely Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020 (L.A. No. 1-2020), entitled “Suspension of Work in the Private Sector by Reason of Natural or Man-Made Calamity,” pursuant to Article 5 of the Labor Code and Republic Act No. 11058. It says that it is in the prerogative of private sector employers if they will suspend work. Unless provided for by law or appropriate proclamation that they are required to suspend for the safety and health of their employees during natural or man-made calamities.
If unworked – No pay shall be given to employees, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment of wages on said day. When the employee has accrued leave credits, he/she may be allowed to utilize such leave so that he/she will have compensation on said days.
If worked – No additional pay is required to be given to the employees aside from their salary on said day. However, the employers may still provide such extra incentives or benefits to employees who reported to work on these days.
No liability in case of failure or refusal to work – Employees who fail or refuse to work by reason of imminent danger resulting from natural or man-made calamity shall not be exposed to or subject to any administrative sanction.
It is important to note that in case of an existing company policy favorable to the employees, that shall prevail over L.A. No. 1-2020. So, for example, a company policy may provide that a premium be paid, on top of the daily wage, in case an employee works during a calamity. Employer may also be unilaterally and unconditionally granting, for a long period of time, the payment of wages to employees even if work is suspended due to natural and/or man-made calamities. Thus, in these or other similar cases, there exists a policy or practice which is more favorable to the employee.
This indicates that, to justify non-payment of salaries during these work suspensions. Otherwise, the employer may risk violating the rule on “non-diminution of benefits” in relation to Article 100 of the Labor Code.