Work suspension pay concerns

Dear Atty. Kathy,

Since the rainy season started this year, we have had several days in our landscaping company where employees were already onsite, or have even started working for the day, when management would declare the suspension of work due to heavy rains. The employees would complain that they lose money during such times as they are not paid when work is suspended. Or that they do not get to earn a full day’s salary and yet spend the same amount of money for travel, meals and related expenses.

As an employee in the human resources department, I have been explaining to them that we’re concerned about their safety and that the timing of our work suspension announcements was largely dependent on official government declarations. The affected employees, however, especially those who have worked for half of their shifts, want to be paid full day’s wages. How do we handle such situations?

Isabella

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Dear Isabella,

Department of Labor and Employment Labor Advisory 01, Series of 2020 — Suspension of Work in the Private Sector By Reason of Natural or Man-Made Calamity (dated 13 January 2020) provides that: “ Except as provided for by law or appropriate proclamation, employers in the private sector shall, in the exercise of management prerogative and in coordination with the safety and health committee, or safety officer, or any other responsible company officer, suspend work to ensure the safety and health of their employees during natural or man-made calamity.”

“In such instances, the following pay rules shall apply: (a) if unworked — no pay, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement granting payment of wages on said day. When the employee has accrued leave credits, he/she may be allowed to utilize such leave so that he/she will have compensation on said days; or (b) if worked — no additional pay shall be given to the employees but only their salary on said day.”

DoLE Labor Advisory 01-2020 also provides that to alleviate the plight of employees during such times, the employers may provide extra incentives or benefits to employees who reported to work on the said days.

Recently, however, the DoLE issued Labor Advisory 17, Series of 2022 — Suspension of Work in the Private Sector By Reason of Weather Disturbances and Similar Occurrences (dated 23 August 2022), which now provides that if the day of the suspension of work during weather disturbances and similar occurrences is worked, the employee is entitled to full regular pay provided that he/she has rendered work for not less than six hours. If less than six hours of work, the employee shall only be entitled to the proportionate amount of the regular pay, without prejudice to existing company policy or practice more beneficial to the employee.

Therefore, from now on, assuming the affected employees in your company have regular eight-hour shifts, and they already worked for half of the shift (or four hours) when there is a declaration of work suspension due to weather disturbances, your company is required to pay said employees their proportionate amount of the regular pay for the four hours only, unless there is a company policy or practice more beneficial to the employees. Full-day pay is not required since the half shift is less than six hours. The company, however, also has the option to provide additional incentives or benefits to those who already reported for work on the said days, such as transportation and/or meal allowances.

Atty. Kathy Larios

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