Not only does a telecommuting work arrangement save workers the need to leave their houses to do their jobs, it likewise minimizes the risk of getting infected with illnesses such as the 2019 novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019 nCoV-ARD), Senator Joel Villanueva said.
Villanueva urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to encourage the private sector to consider implementing telecommuting work arrangements for their employees as global health authorities grapple with containing the outbreak.
“We also expect our friends from the labor department to urge the private sector to adopt ‘telecommuting’ for workers whose tasks can be done remotely to minimize possible spread of the disease. Ito po ay ilan lang sa mga batas na pwede nating magamit para makatulong sa DOH na mapigilan ang pagkalat ng nCoV,” Villanueva said in his opening remarks at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography on Tuesday morning.
In a statement, Villanueva explained that telecommuting work arrangements maintain the productivity of workers while reducing their need to commute to get to their offices or workplaces, thereby lowering the risk of getting infected by the nCoV.
“Working at home will help disperse crowds, decrease the number of people on the streets, on the trains and other in public mass transport vehicles, which will ultimately help mitigate the spread of the infection,” said the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.
He reiterated the obligations of employers to adhere to prevailing Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) law, urging the Department of Labor and Employment to continue reminding their stakeholders that noncompliance to the law is punishable.
“Let me reiterate that non-compliance with occupational safety and health standards is a crime. Buhay at kalusugan po ng ating mga manggagawa ang nakataya sa pagpapabaya,” he said. “I’m glad that the DOLE family is here because we want to know from them the extent to which our employers provide information about nCoV, monitor the health of their workers, and provide personal protective equipment or PPE most especially to health care workers.”
Villanueva also sought assurances from the Department of Health that it has enough facilities and personnel to help contain the spread of the virus.
“Ano po ang capacity ng DOH-supported hospitals, which are already, according to news, crowded even prior to the 2019 coronavirus outbreak? Our point is: we have limited resources, kung marami ng patients under investigation (PUIs) sa San Lazaro, for example, hindi na po ba magagamit ang ospital para sa ibang sakit ng mga Pilipino at ‘yun nga po, magkukulang talaga ang mga personnel, resources at facilities natin,” he said.
“We need to discuss these issues so we’ll be certain that we are going to do something about these,” he added. (senate.gov.ph)