Last December, when we were put on an extended forced leave, I wondered whether it was legal.
But that is water under the bridge now.
Some worse developments happened, and I’m now out of the company. Since the company is U.S.-owned, it was greatly affected by the U.S. recession.
It was good I had another job waiting, so I was able to continue paying our seemingly unending bills. The Lord made a way for me.
We were given separation payments, but they were not as substantial as those given by multinationals.
Last January 29, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released its advisory on flexible work arrangements, allowing companies to resort to several types of work schedules to cope with the effects of the U.S. recession.
DOLE emphasized that the flexible work arrangements were better than total closure or termination of a big number of employees.
Among the work arrangements approved are:
A workday is increased to more than 8 hours, so the usual number of 6 work days per week can be reduced, but the regular total of 48 work hours per week is achieved. The increase in work hours per day is not treated as overtime and the addition should not be more than 4 hours. This work day reduction should not last for over 6 months.
(Our firm used this to reduce the building’s electric and other maintenance costs and at the same time help cut employees’ transpo and related expenses.)
Employees are given work alternately within the workweek.
Employees are required to go on leave for several days or weeks using their leave credits if there are any.
(The “if there are any” phrase seemed to mean that firms are allowed to implement extended forced leaves even if the employees have no more leave credits to use.)
Last December, when many of us were put on forced leave, the firm clearly was trying to avoid paying our unusually high holiday payments, although the bosses did not admit it. Through the years, we always did our best to boost our individual production 7 days before the Christmas holidays to receive big holiday payments. Last December, the firm was always talking about costs, more costs and cost cutting.
Work schedule is not continuous, but the regular total number of work hours within the week or day remains.
Employees avail of holidays at some other days, but there should be no diminution of holiday benefits.
Other flexible work arrangements
DOLE allows companies and its employees to explore other alternative arrangements.
Differences in the interpretation of flexible work arrangements are resolved by the company’s grievance mechanism.
If the grievance mechanism is unable to fix the differences, the grievance is referred to the DOLE Regional Office which has jurisdiction over the workplace.
Companies are required to notify their area’s DOLE Regional Office of their implementation of any flexible work arrangement.
Signed by DOLE Secretary Marianito D. Roque January 29, 2009