I’ve been receiving Qs, relative to employees right to refuse work because of COVID-19. Can an employer sanction the employee?
Related COVID-19 articles:
- COVID-19 Gov’t Issuances Affecting Business and Employment
- Community Quarantine (Lockdown with Exemptions) to Prevent COVID-19 Spread under Code Red Sublevel 2
- Social Distancing to Prevent COVID-19 Spread under Code Red Sublevel 1
- Employers Responsibility per DOLE to Prevent COVID-19
- DOH Guideline to Reduce Risk of COVID-19 Infection in the Workplace
- DOH Seminar for Employers Relative to COVID-19 Outbreak
There are two prevailing schools of thought in the HR community, (1) is Labor Advisory 01 Section 3 and (2) DO 198-18 Chapter III Section 6. So which one applies in a pandemic situation?
- LA 01- the context is the existence of man-made or natural calamity
- DO 198-18 – the context is normal situation
- LA 01- Section 3
- DO 198-18 – Chapter III Section 6
- LA 01- Prior to proclamation # 909 from Malacañang, some believed that this advisory don’t apply because there is no imminent danger or state of calamity
- DO 198-18 – Because there is a need for the security officer of the company to declare imminent danger in the company premises, these Qs arise: (1) can the declaration of a Safety Officer of imminent danger in a company (before proclamation 909) carry more weight than the Philippine President who declared public health emergency and code red? (2) What if the company is due diligent in ensuring the safety of employees and there is absence of danger in the company, however, there is a threat of contagion outside work premises? (3) What if the company is not compliant to the OSH law and there is no Security Officer? (4) For purposes of argument, the security officer is an employee of the company, is there no possibility that decision of the security officer can be influenced by top management?
At the present situation, there is no longer a gray area with the proclamation 909 by the President, placing the entire Philippines under state of calamity.
However, before the declaration of state of calamity, some believed employee cannot invoke the right to refuse work using LA 01, because there is absence of imminent danger and state of calamity.
I conferred with an occupational health and safety consultant who admitted that the COVID-19 situation is an unchartered terrritory and using DO 198 don’t address the fear of employees to report for work because of the pandemic.
Thus, my take on this situation is employee can invoke LA 01 section 3 even on pre state of calamity proclamation. If their job is not on the frontline to natural security and survival
This, because the declaration of the President placing the country under code red sublevel 1 ( and eventually sublevel 2), and placing NCR under community quarantine, where suspension of classes for 1 month, and instruction to private companies to explore alternative work arrangements and restriction on the ingress and ingress of people in NCR to stop the transmission of the virus, is ALREADY a semblance of imminent danger. The declaration of state of calamity is for LGUs to have access to their emergency funds.
Likewise, I also conferred with an ASec of DOLE who is involve on recommending measures to mitigate the impact of Taal eruption and COVID-19. I asked what provision is applicable so employee can invoke his/her right to refuse work. Below is her response:
Have you thought of invoking your right to refuse work, what happened?
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