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Your GCQ Workplace: Staggered Meal Breaks, No Talking in Shuttles

Face shields, social distancing, and staggered meal times.
by Clara Rosales
Aug 18, 2020
Photo/s: Pixabay

The labor and trade departments have released operating guidelines for the workplace as employees return to work in Metro Manila and surrounding areas, which will shift to general community quarantine starting Wednesday.

Employers are required to implement all workplace safety and health
programs listed in Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-04-A, signed by Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III and Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez, at no cost to employees.


Employers classified as large and medium sized private establishments—those with total assets above P15 million—are enjoined to provide shuttle services to their employees.

Health protocols should be enforced in the shuttle services: everyone must use face shields and face masks, observe social distancing, disinfect frequently.

Talking inside the shuttle, whether among fellow employees or on the phone, should be avoided. Eating and removing masks while onboard are discouraged.

Signages of “No Talking,” “No Eating,” and “No Taking Phone Calls” should likewise be displayed or posted on the conspicuous areas in the vehicle.

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Health declaration

Those returning to work must fill up a health declaration form and undergo temperature scans before entering the office building. If temperature runs higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius, the employee will be redirected to an isolation area for further observation. Information regarding the health and records of the employee will be forwarded to the human resources department, and be protected under the Data Privacy Act.

Isolation areas must be located near entrance or exit points. Company protocols for transporting the symptomatic employees to the nearest health facility, such as ambulance conduction and if necessary, for PCR testing shall be put in place.

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Face masks and face shields

Employees are required to wear face masks and face shields at all times. Medical masks are recommended, while masks with vents are prohibited. Cloth masks are also allowed, provided that employees change filters and wash the mask daily.

A social distance of 1 to 2 meters is mandatory.

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Most-at-risk employees

Those most at risk to work are encouraged to work from home. Should they need to report for work physically, they must first secure a medical certificate that states they are fit to work. They may stay in the office building for limited hours and must wear face masks and face shields.

Disinfecting equipment for employees

Companies must ensure that the employees have access to sanitizers, alcohol, soaps, handwashing stations, and single-use paper towels or hand dryers.

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Group meetings longer than 15 minutes are to be held via videoconference. Large groups are also required to hold meetings virtually to prevent the spread of the virus.

Lunch and breaks

Eating in canteens will be allowed as long as social distancing measures are observed. There must also be barriers between diners. Buffet-style services are not allowed. Employees must bring their own plates, utensils, and tumblers. Transactions in the cafeteria will be limited to 15 minutes.

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Staggered meal times are recommended to avoid overcrowding in canteens. Eating alone at workstations is encouraged.

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