Coronavirus and the workforce: How We Can Handle Redundancies in the Philippines

Talks about the coronavirus have been around since the start of 2020, but it was only until March 15 that President Duterte announced a lockdown that would continue for up to this day.

Since then, the country has gone through various phases of the lockdown in an effort to curb the infection. From the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to the more lax General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the government aimed to limit physical contact on a larger scale by limiting outdoor activities, maintaining social distancing, and implementing curfews everyday.

These health measures resulted in the closure of businesses, reduced work hours, and forced digital operations in order to adapt.

Some companies have also leaned in a more skeleton staff to survive the changing times, but what if it’s time to let go of people?

Here’s how you can handle a redundancy in the time of COVID-19.

What is redundancy?

The term redundancy is used to describe excess positions that are unnecessary or exceeds the amount of manpower that is actually needed by the company. This happens when an establishment overhires people, decreases its operations, or drops a previous product line or service activity.

This is different from retrenchment, where a company let go of employee/s to prevent losses and continue its operations.
The legalities of redundancy
Article 283 of the Philippine Labor Code covers what you should expect as an employer or employee.

According to the law, any company that wants to lay off an employee due to redundancy must have the following qualities:
a. Good faith in abolishing redundant positions
b. Fair & reasonable criteria in selecting employees to be terminated
c. Adequate proof of redundancy

Aside from these, the company must send out written notices to the said employee/s and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at least thirty (30) days before the day of dismissal.

In terms of pay, the also states that employees who were let go due to redundancy “shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher.”

Violations of this law may result in the illegal dismissal of an employee.

How to handle redundancies

Redundancies are often the last resort of most companies, especially at a time like this. It is a difficult decision that needs to be carried out when the time comes. Here are a few tips on how you can go through the process more smoothly.

Be honest and fair
Employee redundancy can be a stressful and emotional time for everyone, but it is best to keep our emotions in check and give them an honest overview of the situation. Try to set up a video meeting with the employee for a more humane approach. Allow him/her to ask questions but don’t try not to rationalize or bring up a past incident to prove your point.

Provide a reasonable timeframe
No one wants to be laid off out of the blue, so be patient in guiding them towards every step of the way. During a one-on-one meeting, you can explain the process thoroughly with an online presentation as you discuss the most likely outcomes. In the end, the goal here is to make sure that the employee fully understands what’s happening.

Keep everyone in the loop
It might sound awkward, but it’s probably the best route. Letting the affected and the unaffected parties inside the company know the cause and effect of redundancy in the workplace will improve (or at least retain) employer-employee relations. You can schedule a team meeting as well as an email blast to let the word out.

Reference:

  • https://ndvlaw.com/how-to-implement-a-redundancy-program-in-the-work-place/#:~:text=In%20case%20of%20termination%20due,of%20service%2C%20whichever%20is%20higher.
  • https://pnl-law.com/blog/redundancy-authorized-cause-in-employment-termination/
  • https://blr.dole.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/do_147-15_s2015.pdf
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYsEMx_QDlk
  • https://www.eventbank.com/event/managing-redundancies-21461/
  • https://employsure.co.nz/blog/5-tips-for-employers-handling-redundancies/

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