Natural events are common in the Philippines. Should firms pay their employees when disaster occurs or when work is suspended?
When super typhoons, torrential monsoon rains, or volcanic eruptions are predicted, or when an earthquake occurs, the government has the authority to proclaim a work suspension for public employees. Companies may have their own rules in consideration of OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) law and LGU (Local Government Unit) laws, but DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) cannot do the same for the private sector.
Work is assumed normal in the absence of a formal announcement. Employees who are absent for safety reasons are handled in accordance with industry or company practice.
Some companies do have a business continuity plan in place to prevent work stoppage, in times of natural or man-made calamities.
Should employers compensate employees during work suspension?
Unless there is a more favorable policy or practice, or a CBA, the rule of thumb is no work, no pay. This is consistent with LA 01 s.2020. In cases when an employee reported for work but management decided to suspend work, only the actual work hours will be paid. Employees can use their service incentive leave (SIL) or vacation/ emergency leave (EL/VL) credits to make up for the lost man-hours.
Some management, on the other hand, is generous during job suspensions. They either do all of the following or a combination of them:
- Employees who reported for work will be paid in full even though business hours were shortened.
- The administrative effect of man-days lost (tardiness and absence) is waived
- Absent employees are still paid, and those who reported for work are given risk allowance
Should companies extend assistance to employees who are affected by a calamity?
Company assistance in times of disaster is based on a contingency plan or plain charity.
Should the employer send home its employees in the middle of a typhoon because the Government suspends work?
Government announcements usually create expectations among employees that their management will do the same, but when a management declares a holiday it costs money and loss of productivity. Here are the best practices in such situation:
- Employees who can hurdle the challenges on the road should still report to the office, while those who face safety risks can take an emergency leave, a vacation leave, or a leave without pay, depending on their leave credits.
- If work from home is feasible and effective, management can allow on a case-by-case basis.
- For those who came to work, management can extend risk allowance or a free lunch and a merit for their upcoming performance review.
- If management decides to send employees home earlier, EEs are still paid for the whole day aside from ensuring employee safety.
There might be a better approach on the situation, but whatever the course of action is, employees human right to life and safety should be considered.
What is your company’s practice? Feel free to share in the comments section.