National News

DOLE Issues New Workplace Guidelines

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has recently released interim guidelines calling for workplaces, workers, and employees to observe health and safety protocols under the ‘new normal’.

“Employers may test workers for COVID-19. Testing kits procured and used shall be the responsibility of the employers,”states Department of Labor and Employment Regional Director Cyril Ticao, in an article by Panay News.

Interim guidelines include the following:

* All employers and workers must subject themselves to temperature check, accomplish the health symptoms questionnaire (which can be downloaded from DOLE Region 6’s Facebook page and website) and wear facemasks before they can enter the workplace.

* Employers shall provide the appropriate facemasks and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers.

* If a worker has a temperature of more than 37.5 degrees Celsius even after a five-minute rest, or if his responses in the health questionnaire need further evaluation by the clinic staff, the person shall be isolated in an area identified by the company and will not be allowed to enter the workplace.

* Clinic staff assigned to assess the workers held in the isolation area shall be provided the appropriate medical-grade PPEs by the establishment which shall include but not limited to, facemasks, goggles/face shields, and or gloves.

* Equipment or vehicles entering the hub operational area must go through a disinfection process.

* Employers and workers must observe physical distancing, disinfection protocols, and proper cough etiquette at all times.

* Washrooms and toilets must have sufficient clean water and soap.

* Sanitizers must be made available at specific areas where workers pass.

* Eating in communal areas is discouraged but if this is not possible, the employer shall ensure a one-worker-per- table and one-meter-distance-per-worker set-up.

* Prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and with clients is discouraged. Online systems are highly encouraged to be utilized for clients including the use of videoconferencing.

* As to meetings, those which need physical presence must be reduced and the participants kept to a minimum. Lengthy discussions shall be done through videoconferencing.

* Private establishments are also mandated to implement alternative work arrangements such as working-hour shifts or work from home (WFH), where feasible, and on a rotation basis. Work agreements should be developed which would detail the deliverables from these employees and there shall be no diminution in wages or benefits.

* Where feasible, shuttle services and/or decent accommodation on near-site location should also be provided to lessen travel and people movement.

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