The Department of Labor and Employment said that 372 affected workers in Negros Occidental received P7,624,207.51 in money claims for regular holiday pay and special day premium, provisions of minimum wage and payments of 13th month, retirement, and separation benefits, among others, through the Single Entry Approach of the agency.
The workers were from micro, small, and medium enterprises that temporarily laid off their employees and stopped operations because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, 284 requests for assistance (RFAs) for mediation, through the SEnA were filed, of which 129 were settled and 155 were disposed of, the DOLE said.
One amicable settlement facilitated by DOLE Regional Office VI, through its Negros Occidental Field Office, was the RFA filed by a sales assistant of an apparel shop in Bacolod City, that involved claims for non-payment of wages, overtime pay, service incentive, leave pay, 13th month pay, and separation pay, all amounting to P285,000.
SEnA desk officer Ma. Zyrene Prietos facilitated the resolution of the RFA in less than two weeks, the DOLE said in a press release.
Another settlement handled by SEADO Richard Aprosta involved three employees of a bakeshop in Bacolod City, who were awarded separation pays and retirement benefits amounting to P306,967.
“We appreciate the efforts of our SEADOs in providing immediate assistance to the affected workers as well as the compliance of the business owners to labor standards. Despite the pandemic, we were able to ease the burden of the workers and still maintain a healthy working relationship between the workers and management,” DOLE 6 regional director Cyril Ticao said.
DOLE NOFO head, Mary Agnes Capigon, said the number of RFAs increased due to the suspension of acceptance of RFAs after the issuance of DOLE Department Order 213, series of 2020, that prescribes the guidelines in the prescription of actions and the suspension of reglementary periods to file pleadings, motions, and other documents, on May 5, 2020.
This was further extended until September due to the implementation of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine in the City of Bacolod, she added.
“I would like to commend the desk officers for exerting their time, effort, and even risking their health and safety just to prevent labor issues and conflicts from ripening into full-blown disputes or actual labor cases,” Capigon said.
DOLE-NOFO has been sharing half of the total number of RFAs handled in Western Visayas since the institutionalization of SEnA in 2010. Among the workers served by the program were from the agricultural sector and those living in far-flung areas of the province, the press release added.*