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PIA Press Release
2009/10/05

DOLE Bicol advises companies to allow workers to go home early at onset of typhoons

by RP Escalante

Legazpi City (5 October) -- "Let them go home early."

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol regional office here has advised companies and individual workers here, to take necessary precautions by sending home workers early on before the on-set of calamities such as typhoons in order to protect the lives and properties of both labor and management.

Ernesto C. Bihis, DOLE Bicol regional director, said that loss of life and limb can be prevented if employers would release their workers 'early' or even before the on-set of calamities.

"Let us learn from Typhoon Reming. Hundreds of employees were stranded in a mall in Legazpi for about two days," Bihis explained.

It will be much safer and cheaper, Bihis stressed, for management, if their employees are dismissed early and are in the comforts of their homes during typhoons rather than be stranded at the workplace.

"If employees are stranded within the confines of the workplace, it will be the responsibility of the management to care for them. They (employers) must provide the basic needs during that time, including food," he added.

Records show that after Typhoon Reming, about 90 per cent of establishments in Legazpi City are closing their shops even on a signal no. 2 advisory of PAGASA. This, the agency said, is perhaps the 'best practice' for a company.

"Legazpeņos were traumatized of Reming. Nobody wanted to be caught off-guard, no establishment here wanted to have additional burden on their shoulders. As they say, prevention is always better than a cure," Bihis stressed.

The agency suggests that establishments nationwide must adopt the practice of Legazpi City based establishments. It has also urged companies to have a Calamity-Emergency Response Plan (CERP) to ensure workplace safety, secure properties, ready first-aid kits, and for worst scenario cases identify escape routes, and if possible have a stand-by vehicle for evacuation purposes.

However, the agency clarifies that it has no power to order a closure during a calamity. Sending employees home during calamities or typhoons is the discretion of the establishment's owners.

"We cannot force establishments to close down or tell them to let their employees go but we can try to convince them that it is probably the best and the cheapest way to survive a calamity. If and only establishments in Legazpi have released their employees sooner during Reming, then perhaps nobody was stranded," Bihis ended. (DOLE/PIA) [top]

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