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Gov’t agency heads can combine, adopt own alternative work arrangements amid COVID-19 emergency — CSC

Government agency heads can combine alternative working arrangements or adopt their own to fit the needs of their offices during the COVID-19 emergency, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) said Monday.

Days after the CSC issued revised interim guidelines for alternative working arrangements, Commissioner Aileen Lizada explained the parameters of five possible setups government agencies may implement during the state of national emergency.

A work-from-home arrangement is applicable in areas under enhanced community quarantine or those under general community quarantine, where there are physical distancing requirements and reduced public transportation,  Lizada said at the Laging Handa briefing.

Senior citizens, as well as those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women should work from home "except when their services are indispensable under the circumstances  or when office work is permitted," according to the CSC guidelines.

Lizada said other arrangements are having a skeletal workforce, a four-day compressed workweek, staggered working hours, and other arrangements agency heads deem applicable to their office's functions.

In the compressed workweek setup, Lizada said employees need not stay in their offices for 10 hours in order to complete the 40-hour workweek in four days. She said they can be in their offices for a certain number of hours then take some work home.

According to the rules, employees who are part of the skeletal workforce are entitled to hazard pay on top of compensatory time off or overtime pay as well as other applicable allowances, subject to accounting and auditing.

Lizada said those working from home should not expect overtime pay and hazard pay.

For their part, government agencies are tasked to provide their employees health and psychosocial interventions like stress debriefing; appropriate personal protective equipment for frontliners, reduced working hours, reasonable transportation facilities and housing quarters when practicable, among others.

Lizada added that agencies should each designate a safety and health officer, create a safety and health committee and/or a special investigation committee, and provide emergency medical services to all employees, including job order and contractual staff, for work-related accidents.

The official said the revised guidelines apply retroactively. They will remain in force until President Rodrigo Duterte lifts the state of national emergency. — RSJ, GMA News