Compassion for daily wage workers | Inquirer Business
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Compassion for daily wage workers

It’s Day 17 of the Metro Manila and Luzon-wide lockdown.

Barring any changes in the government’s timetable, the enhanced community quarantine will remain in effect for two more weeks, or until April 14. The standstill has adversely affected economic activities in the country’s most populous region. A similar scheme has been adopted by other local government units.

As a result of the lockdown, all the forecasts, budgeting and other corporate planning for 2020 that businesses had earlier done may have to be reviewed and revised, if not set aside.


For now, the problem that’s perhaps at the top of the mind of managers of businesses that have shut down or drastically reduced their operation is the payment of the wages or salaries of their employees.


The lockdown has abruptly cut the revenue stream from which their payrolls are sourced.For businesses with substantial reserves or have credit lines with banks, funding their payroll may not be a problem.

They may just have to realign some funds or defer certain expenditures for the time being to make sure their employees get their pay on time.


Monthly paid employees are, by and large, favorably situated on this matter.

Unless they were ordered to report for work in a company whose business is exempted from the lockdown but failed to do so without justifiable reason, their inability or failure to report for work would have no adverse effect on their paycheck.Their absence is attributable to a cause beyond their control, i.e., strict orders from the government for them to stay home and help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease, or COVID-19.

On this point, the Department of Labor has served notice that absences incurred by an employee on account of the lockdown shall not be considered unauthorized and therefore is not a valid ground for dismissal or suspension from his or her employment.

Daily-paid workers, or those whose wages are paid on “daily rate” basis, are not similarly (or favorably) situated as their monthly paid counterparts. Majority of these workers come from service provider companies, or employment agencies, as they are commonly known, and the rest are direct hires of companies that need extra hands on certain times of the year to meet increased business activities.

Unless their employment contracts state otherwise, the standard norm for their compensation is “no work, no pay.” Meaning, if for any reason they fail to report for work, they do not get paid for the day they were absent.

Service provider companies cite stiff competition in their sector (which is a clear indication of the country’s high unemployment rate) and low margins as justifications for their “no work, no pay” policy.

In light of this compensation system, daily-paid workers make every effort to report for work, come hell or high water, because a day of absence means one less day of pay.

These are the people who, in spite of stringent police measures and lack of public transportation, tried to report for work and risk contamination of COVID-19 during the early days of the lockdown.

For them, going on foot to their place of work and getting accosted by the police for refusing to stay at home were a small price to pay for earning a

day’s wage.

Contrary to the statement of a pompous blogger, they are not stubborn or hard-headed people. They are our less fortunate countrymen who had to go to work despite the lockdown so their families can have something to eat the following day. There is no question the “no work, no pay” compensation policy is legal. But is it moral at this time when the country is beset by a problem that has practically paralyzed economic activities in the country?

As a former jurist once said, not everything legal is moral.

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Hopefully, that statement would be taken to heart by business executives in deciding whether or not to pay the wages of daily-paid workers who were unable to report for work because of the lockdown. INQ

TAGS: Business, workers

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