Alternative Work Arrangements Under the “New Normal” for Businesses

As part of their business continuity plans and instead of terminating employees or closing down businesses, the Department of Health (“DOH”) directs and the Department of Labor and Employment (“DOLE”) highly encourages employers to develop work arrangements that will reduce the number of people in the workplace and the need to travel. These include work from home arrangements for employees whose tasks can be done at home and among employees who are at high risk (those aged more than 60 years, or of any age with co-morbidities or pre-existing illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, or with immunocompromised health status, or with high risk pregnancy).

Such arrangements must not result in diminution in wages or benefits.

Employers must provide employees on work-from-home or telecommuting arrangements with adequate support to perform their assigned tasks or jobs.

Employers may adopt any or a combination of the available alternative work schemes, including but not limited to:

  1. Transfer of employees to another branch or outlet of the same employer;
  2. Assignment of employees to other functions or positions in the same or other branch or outlet of the same employer;
  3. Reduction of normal work hours per day or workdays per week;
  4. Job rotation alternately providing workers with work within the workweek or within the month;
  5. Partial closure of establishment;
  6. Other feasible work arrangements considering the requirements of the business.

Alternative work arrangements are temporary in nature and must be adopted only for as long as the Public Health Crisis exists. Establishments that adopt alternative working schemes must report the same to the DOLE Regional Office having jurisdiction over their principal place of business and submit duly certified copies of all agreements pertaining to the same.

Employers and employees can voluntarily and mutually agree in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits provided under existing employment contracts, company policies, or collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”).

Employees who are separated from employment based on authorized causes should be given final pay in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 06, Series of 2020, without prejudice to other benefits which may have been provided under law, company policy and/or CBA.

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