The economy is expected to rise again as employees return to the workplace and businesses reopen. However, the country's private sector has taken heavy blows because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems recovery is harder than expected—especially for smaller businesses.
Over 50 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with around 190,000 employees have already sent a notice of temporary closure to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on May 22.
Initially, the MSMEs filed for the implementation of flexible work arrangements for their employees. However, come May 21, notices for temporary closure arrived at DOLE instead.
“Nagpadala sila ng notice na instead na flexible work arrangement, they decided to temporarily close operations,” he said in a Teleradyo interview.
Earlier, DOLE reported that around 2.6 million workers have been displaced permanently or temporarily because of COVID-19. The 190,000 employees who could be impacted by the temporary closure of these MSMEs are net yet part of that bigger number.
Additionally, DOLE estimated that around a total of four to five million Filipinos might be displaced permanently or unemployed due to the health crisis.
Bello said DOLE will review the temporary closure notices. He added that DOLE is trying to find ways to protect employees and preserve jobs during the pandemic.
“’Yun ang aming pinaka-problema, pinaka-nightmare namin ngayon—how to protect employees at all costs, na walang employee na mawalan ng trabaho,” he said.
Aside from MSMEs, he also vowed to ask the Department of Public Works and Highways to resume the rest of the infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program to help the construction industry.
Bello said he also asked heads of construction companies to hire 10 to 20 percent more workers for these infrastructure projects.
He also urged business owners to reduce operations and implement flexible working arrangements instead of fully closing in order to prevent displacement of more workers.
Main image from Tom Mossholder on Unsplash.