More than 660,000 job order and contractual workers to continue receiving wages during quarantine–COA and DBM

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More than 660,000 job order (JO) and contract of service (COS) workers affected by the lockdown imposed to deter the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will continue to receive their wages during the duration of the enhanced community quarantine.

Data from the Civil Service Commission shows that of the 2.4 million workers in government, over 660,000 workers fall under job orders or contract of service.

Some 360,000 government contractual workers are in Luzon, where the national government ordered an enhanced community quarantine until April due to COVID-19.

“COS and JO workers who will be required to work from home shall be paid their corresponding salaries or wages during community quarantine period,” a joint circular from the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) stated.

COS and JO workers who will not be required to work due to work suspension and those who are not part of the agency skeleton staff shall be paid their corresponding salaries during the quarantine period “as an exception to the ‘no work, no pay’ principle for this occasion only,” the joint circular also stated.

Meanwhile, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go earlier said he echoed the appeal of concerned sectors and fellow legislators, particularly Senators Joel Villanueva and Pia Cayetano, for the government to release the compensation of  JO and COS workers affected by the quarantine.

“Today, the Department of Budget and Management issued Joint Circular No 1, s. 2020, together with the Commission on Audit, which states the general guidelines granting this appeal,” Go said.

Go and Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources, provided the Senate media a copy of the circular.

The circular also provides that JO and COS workers, whose services are engaged by government agencies located in Luzon may be considered for work from home, and well as skeleton staff for the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, emergency frontline services, border control, and other critical services in the government.

COS and JO workers, whose services are engaged by agencies located in the Visayas and in Mindanao under the general community quarantine, may be considered for the following work arrangements: skeleton staff, work from home, compressed workweek, and staggered working hours.

The circular also said contractual workers who will be part of the agency skeleton staff and will be able to physically report for work during the quarantine period may be granted appropriate additional benefit, as may be authorized by the Office of the President.

“COS and JO workers who will be required to work from home shall be paid their corresponding salaries/ wages during the community quarantine period,” the interim guidelines further provide.

Go thanked the DBM, COA, and other concerned agencies for their immediate action in granting our appeal and for prioritizing the welfare of all COS and JOs workers affected by this crisis.

He said the recommendation is simply the government’s way of honoring their end of existing job contracts. He emphasized further that it is not the contractuals’ fault that most of them could not fulfill their end of the contract given that all agencies are implementing a skeletal workforce.

He added that if these JOs and contractuals are deprived of compensation, they might end up finding other ways to earn a living and risk not following the strict quarantine measures currently being imposed to protect everyone from the spread of the virus.

With the entire island of Luzon placed under enhanced community quarantine until April 12, JOs and COS workers who receive daily salaries are expected to bear the brunt of the measure as all government agencies were required to identify their respective skeletal workforces for critical services.

Go emphasized that the provision of compensation to JOs and COS entails no additional expense to the government as their salaries have already been taken into account in the respective budgets of the different agencies availing of their services./Stacy Ang

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