Sprout created this page to aid your business in continuing operations remotely while also being compliant with government mandated policies.

In these unprecedented times, we understand that a lot of businesses are facing challenges and unexpected changes. But the situation doesn’t have to be helpless. Sprout is here to provide you a one-stop-shop of resources #BecauseWeCare.

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Moving Forward from COVID-19

Sprout to the rescue!

Sprout aims to live up to its clear mission with every challenge we come across: “To impact the life of every Filipino by improving business in the Philippines.” Right now, more than ever, we need to lead with our purpose, as it transcends everything we thought we knew about doing business. For this reason, we created our Rescue Kit to help every company in the Philippines keep their business operations running and to support your current needs. 

Sprout rescue kit mechanics

*Promo is extended until June 30, 2020

1 Go to sprout.ph/covid and click the signup form.
2 Make sure to complete all the details in the form and then click “Submit”.
3 One of our Sprout HR Tech consultants will call you and schedule your demo date.
4 Your 30 days FREE trial starts once you sign the agreement and all your account details are verified.
5 Finally, our implementation team will assist your designated HR representatives all throughout the process of digital activation.
Time to save the day, future proof your business with Sprout!

Sprout resources
to help businesses manage the crisis

Sprout Pulse was released as an optional pop up survey in the Sprout HR dashboards of client companies. We conducted two separate surveys: one for employees and one for managers and admins.

The survey ran from March 25 to March 27, 2020 with 13,121 respondents from approximately 422 companies of different sizes in the Philippines.

Check out our second survey here!

Get a copy now!

Sprout HR + legal experts webinar

Every week, we invite our very own legal experts to discuss government updates, tips on how to manage your business and best practices on how you can adapt to the “new normal” during this time of COVID-19.  

WATCH US ON

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Sprout HR + Legal Experts PDF Resources

Download presentation materials from our last Sprout HR + Legal Experts Webinar

Sprout HR + Legal Experts FAQS

1. Question: How will we able to book an accommodation for employees when hotels have been advised to not accept any new bookings after March 17?
Answer: We understand where the hotel industry is coming from. The situation that we are in right now remains to be fluid. Perhaps you can provide your employees with other means of safe accommodation.

2. Question: Will DOLE’s financial assistance of Php 5,000 be applicable to employees who are receiving full salary since they are working from home?
Answer: CAMP is applicable only for those affected workers regardless of status.

3. Question: DOLE’s financial assistance of P5,000 will be applicable to employees who are receiving their salaries and still have some leaves? They are currently working from home.
Answer: To confirm, employees who are receiving full salary will not be covered by CAMP.

4. Question: By affected by Covid 19, do we mean those whose salary is reduced?
Answer: Yes.

5. Question: Everyone is on WFH except for one employee (Utility staff) who is on forced leave. Will I just report him since he has no income under the establishment report or do I need to report everyone?
Answer: The advisories do not mention EEs that were put on forced leave prior to their effectiveness.

6. Question: If the business will go for temporary closure, the company will not give salaries to its employees?
Answer: If the reason for temporary closure is because of COVID, non-payment of salaries may be violative of the advisories.

7. Question: What if you have multiple branches in your company and they are located in different areas, are you going to prepare each branch separately and submit it to each dole office that covers your branch?
Answer: Should be applied separately, because application has to be made to the provincial office/field office that has jurisdiction over the branch. Anyways, email addresses of each PO/FO are part of the advisories.

8. Question: Can we have a copy of the Establishment Report Form? Where can we download that form? Thanks
Answer: Check it here: https://www.dole.gov.ph/labor-advisory/ , see annexure of Labor Advisory 12

9. Question: Hi. Is it possible to have some employees affected in B.1 & others B.2
Answer: The CAMP program applies nationwide

10. Question: Do we still need to submit the ERF? Our company is Business As Usual – all employees are WFH. Employees’ salary is not affected. They will still receive their full salary.
Answer: If you are planning to avail of CAMP program – yes. But earlier, DOLE released an advisory, requesting employers that intend to implement WFH to submit a notice to them 1 week prior to its implementation.

11. Question: Can we resend the application? There are mistakes written on the form. Thank you
Answer: Yes, however, request DOLE to acknowledge your revised form.

12. Question: Our office is now on WFH mode. our salary and benefits payout were not affected. Are we still required to report this to DOLE?
Answer: We believe that any implementation of WFH arrangement still requires notification to DOLE based on an earlier advisory.

13. Question: Affected workers refers to workers with Covid19?
Answer: Not necessarily, it includes all employees whose income is reduced by reason of implementing theCOVID advisories.

14. Question: Will they accept submissions in signed with e-signature?
Answer: E-signature should be okay by reason of Electronic commerce act

15. Question: Would DOLE get copies of the business permit, including the application for business permit as reference?
Answer: That’s not part of the listed requirements.

16. Question: Would work from home employees be considered as affected employees
Answer: If there is no interruption – then no.

17. Question: Currently we are implementing work from home and skeletal (alternate MWF/TTHs) all are still being paid of their salaries. Are we required to submit forms?
Answer: Not the CAMP form, but a form notifying DOLE that you will implement a WFH arrangement.

18. Question: Can we send the payroll report from without it being notarized as we are not able to go out
Answer: We don’t know how the DOLE will appreciate an unnotarized report, but if you can justify, it may help.

19. Question: What is the impact of Temporary Closure? Written Notice to Employees, can we do that thru email? Is the reason COVID? Temporary closure is really the last resort.
Answer: DOLE encourages employers to offer other modes of work arrangements.

20. Question: Can the company payroll be submitted by batch? For context, our HR officer actually ran off before lockdown so we need to reconstruct the document needed.
Answer: You can submit only once.

21. Question: How will the 5,000 from DOLE be remitted? Direct to employee or via employer still, in which case employer still needs to find a way to send the money to workers?
Answer: If they have a bank payroll account it will be remitted through banks.

22. Question: So if we will continue to pay all of our employees their full salary, we do not need to file a report for CAMP to DOLE?
Answer: Yes not CAMP. But if you are implementing WFH, then there’s another notice that you need to submit to DOLE a week before your actual implementation

23. Question: Can the company payroll be submitted by batch? For context, our HR officer actually ran off before lockdown so we need to reconstruct the document needed.
Answer: By batch submission should be okay so long as the individual salary is reflected there. The rationale there is that the employees’ salary will not be adversely affected.

24. Question For FWA, the deadline is one week prior to its implementation but the current scenario does not permit us. Will missing the deadline be used against us?
Answer: It should not be. You can justify to dole that you are in good faith compliance, and the situation is really out of your control.

25. Question: I know this is not in relation to the CAMP but just wanted to ask, we have an employee who is assigned to a government unit and they are still operating. He is an onsite support engineer and the nature of his work limits him to perform WFH. Is he allowed to have hazard pay also? How much? Is it at the employer’s discretion?
Answer: Yes, he is entitled to hazard pay. As a matter of fact, this kind of employee is encouraged to continue with their work but hazard pay should be given to him.

26. Question: What is the best practice if you have employees under PUM or PUI? Is there a need to disclose to the other employees?
Answer: What the DOH says is that you should coordinate with your local public health facility and LGU. There should also be immediate vacating and cordoning off of the premises.

27. Question: Can we do forced unpaid leaves?
Answer: The rationale of the advisories is to protect the income and rights of the workers.

28. Question: I will have a mandatory leave without pay effective the succeeding months due to COVID-19, am I eligible for the 5K and is this acceptable to DOLE?
Answer: Without pay? You may be entitled. So long as your employer includes you.

29. Question: In case an employer regularly gives 13th month (prorated) on Mar 30th, will they violate anything (diminution of benefits, etc) if they decide to move the payout date of such (as a cash flow control measure)?
Answer: You might, if the giving of the prorated 13th month has ripened already in a company practice.

30. Question: Can I terminate probationary employees at this time?
Answer: Yes, so long as there is a valid basis. Not because of COVID-19.

31. Question: If the employees are on leave without pay, what can they do regarding their government contributions? Can they pay voluntarily even if they are still connected to a company?
Answer: This is another issue that we need guidance from SSS, PagIbig, PhilHealth. For now, it remains as status quo.

1. Question: Is the BCP country specific if the mother company is based overseas? or a combination of both?
Answer: It is okay if you have a mother BCP but should be flexible enough to adapt with the local scenarios.

2. Question: Is there an existing law that covers each company’s regulation in BCP requiring them to follow in case the need arises? Also how can we make sure that in cases like this, every employee will not be compromised?
Answer: None. However, regulatory standards greatly impact the organization’s BCP. Also, there are international standards that can serve as guidance.

3. Question: In the event that the BCP fails, are there any other alternatives? If no other alternatives can be considered, can this be a valid ground for termination of employment due to retrenchment to prevent losses and/or disease/illness?
Answer: BCP’s goal is to allow the business to operate amidst the presence of a disruption. It may not be used as a categorical basis for the termination or retrenchment of employees. Our labor laws remain to be the standards to follow for retrenchment/termination.

4. Question For the free payroll offered by Sprout, what are the requirements to be qualified?
Answer: Hi Normita, we’re offering FREE payroll for companies with 50 employees and below. You can create a FREE account here to get you started: https://sprout.ph/payroll-smallbiz/

5. Question: How do you apply the company code of conduct now that we are leading to work from home arrangement?
Answer: Code of Conduct still applies. Disruptions should not impact it. However, you may have to implement a specific code of conduct for your Work From Home arrangement.

6.Question: Do we have a benchmark as to how much is the internet and mobile allowances?
Answer: There’s no rule of thumb. It would all depend on your business requirements and the prices of internet packages in the market

7. Question: During cases like the COVID-19 pandemic, where our company’s BCP is not properly structured and since our work schedules continue, can we possibly suspend an AWOL employee?
Answer: Imposition of disciplinary action presupposes full compliance with due process requirements (i.e. a Notice to Explain has been issued to the employee, a written reply has been submitted or the time provided to reply has lapsed, and if stated explicitly in the company code of conduct or other policy, an administrative hearing has been completed) so legally an organization may impose disciplinary action even in the middle of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. However, we stress that Labor Advisory 9-2020 exhorts employers to exercise flexibility and compassion, and this may be an instance that the employer can exercise such.

8. Question: Can we rescind job offers already made if they have not yet actually started working for us? This is due to cost cutting measures. Will there be legal implications?
Answer: There is a difference between perfection of an employment contract and commencement of the employment relationship. If the employment contract is conditional, for example, premised on satisfactory completion of background investigation, then non-compliance with these conditions means that the employer is no longer obliged to proceed with the employment relationship.
For specific queries on legal implications of your actions here, please contact your lawyers of choice.

9. Question: How do we start with a BCP having no background on making one? Any concrete tips to start off? How do we relate BCP with DOLE standards?
Answer: You can start by identifying your key or critical deliverables, and the resources needed to perform these. Identify what are the risks, events or disruptors that can prevent you from achieving your objective or from completing these deliverables. Then formulate a strategy on how you can still operate or perform these tasks even when there’s a disruption. Example, during ECQ, you can provide your employees with enough work tools (computer, internet and/or access) and have them work-from-home. While for activities that can not be performed remotely, you can assign/create a skeletal team, or teams that will rotate, that will perform these critical tasks or operations on site. During this time also, we should align our BCP not only with DOLE standards but also with the memos from the IATF. Example is to ensure that proper physical distancing is still observed within the work area.

10. Question: Regarding Establishment Report Form. Does it need to be completed if the only change was working from home, but no disruption to pay for any staff members?
Answer: Yes, it is recommended that the ERF be completed and submitted to the DOLE Regional/Provincial/Field Office with jurisdiction over the workplace. Alternatively, the employer may want to apply for alternative work arrangements (under Labor Advisory 2-2009) or telecommuting (under the Telecommuting Law and its IRR, Dept. Order No. 202-19)

11. Question: If the current WFH set-up due to the pandemic will remain to be the “new” normal, how can BCP support this new set-up specific to continuing BPO operations?
Answer: Due to this Pandemic event caused by COVID-19, a lot of companies already considered WFH as their new normal/BAU or expect that this set-up will last for quite a while. Also, you most likely have the picture of common problems your employee encounters while working from home. With this, you also need to update or create a BCP that will cover potential disruptions to employees while working from home. Examples of these disruptions are (1) loss of power, (2) slow or no internet access and even (3) lack of food supply, or combinations of these events, that would impact a significant number of your employees and prevent them from meeting their and your company’s deliverables. By identifying these potential risks and performing business impact analysis, you can already prepare a response or action plan to mitigate the potential impacts. Example of action plan, during ECQ, for loss of power can be assigning a back-up for the key deliverables of affected employees and for slow or no internet connection, you can provide them with broadband or prepaid home wifi.

12. Question: I have employees who were just hired last week. However, given the situation, our clients offshore pulled out the campaign and we do not have available positions to reprofile them to. What is the best thing to do? Can they be placed on redundancy and what would be the computation of their separation pay given that they have not even reached a month?
Answer: Redundancy is an authorized cause of termination of employment where the employer must notify both DOLE and the affected employee 30 days prior to the effectiveness thereof. In cases of redundancy, separation pay is required in the amount of one month pay for every year of service, or one month pay, whichever is greater.
For specific queries on legal implications of your actions here, please contact your lawyers of choice. 

1. Question: If the quarantine will be extended, is it ok to convert work from home to reduced working hours?
Answer: We may have to await DOLE’s further announcement on this.

2. Question: We have an employee who is assigned and working under a government unit. Is he entitled for a hazard pay?
Answer: It is encouraged that you submit it to show good faith compliance with the existing advisory.

3. Question: We are a private sector company but our employee is assigned in the government unit and they’re still operational. Can we give him hazard pay?
Answer: Government employees are entitled to receive hazard pay by virtue of Admin Order No. 26. If this is a private employee assigned to work for govt institutions during this COVID outbreak, private employees may provide hazard pay considering the situation that we are in right now.

4. Question: Are work from home (WFH) employees not eligible for the cash assistance? If there is no income reduction or loss?
Answer: Yes, since they are not considered as “affected” workers.

5. Question: What are the HAZARD Pay practices and recommendations for private companies?
Answer: Hazard pay is not part of the general labor standards in Book III of the Labor Code. We recommend that the company do benchmarking within their industry to determine best practices as well as average rates for hazard pay

6. Question: Part of the requirements in the reimbursement of the paid advance of the Employer in the ML is the Birth Certificate of the child. Isn’t it unfair with the employer since we will have a hard time securing a birth certificate of the resigned employee?
Answer: The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law state that “Full payment of the maternity leave benefit shall be advanced by the employer within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application (Section 3, Rule VI, IRR of RA No. 11210) and “The SSS shall immediately reimburse to the employer the maternity benefits advanced to the employed female member, only to the extent of 100% of her average daily salary credit for 105 days, 120 days or 60 days, as the case may be, upon receipt of satisfactory and legal proof of such payment.” (Section 4, Rule VI, IRR of RA No. 11210) the requirement for SSS to reimburse the amount advanced to the employee is only proof of satisfactory and legal proof of such payment. The IRR only requires that the female employee apply for availment of the maternity leave benefit for the female employee to receive the full payment of the said benefit.

7. Question: With regards to the holidays, should the employees work before the holidays to avail of the premium?
Answer: Labor Advisory No. 13-2020 provides the rules for computing holiday pay or April 9 and 10, and the reckoning date is March 17 instead of April 8. Should a company have a more favorable practice than what is stated in LA No. 13, it may do so with the caveat that company practices may become demandable rights on the part of the employees.

8. Question: Did the government mandated Hazard Pay to the private sectors?
Answer: Hazard pay is not part of the general labor standards in the Labor Code.

9. Question: How is hazard pay computed? is it paid in an absolute amount?
Answer: We recommend that the company do benchmarking within their industry to determine best practices as well as average rates for hazard pay.

10. Question: Relative to paying overtime. If the employees are asked to stay in the office for one month due to ECQ, are we mandated to pay the entire period including off?
Answer: Overtime pay refers to additional compensation for work performed beyond the first eight hours in a work day. This is different from providing facilities and supplements such as living quarters. If an employee is free to do as he/she wishes with the time after the work day, these are no longer “compensable work hours” and thus overtime pay is not required.

11. Question: On regular holidays, are we not required to pay people holiday pay when they are on paid leave day before the holiday?
Answer: Please refer to Labor Advisory No. 13-2020 for details pertaining to April 9, 10 and 11, 2020.

12. Question: Can we validly impose disciplinary sanctions against an employee who refuse to participate in the company’s work at home
Answer: Disciplinary action may be imposed for violations of the company code of conduct or other relevant company policy. In the absence of such documents, disciplinary action may be imposed for the just causes enumerated in the Labor Code (serious misconduct, grave and habitual negligence, fraud, commission of a crime, analogous causes). The law and relevant jurisprudence also require compliance with procedural due process. Once you are able to determine that there is indeed a just cause and that due process has been observed, an employer may validly impose disciplinary action.

13. Question: What if we went through the right process and we have passed 3 appraisals to become a regular employee but our contract was ended because the company needed to cut down on the number of people?
Answer: Project term or fixed term employment is explicitly allowed under the law. The law recognizes that at the end of the project or term fixed by contract, the employment naturally ends.

14. Question: It was mentioned during the session that open communication should be implemented? What if the employee does not report virtually even if the employee is just within Manila. We tried reaching out thru email, FB and text. There were guidelines set. Can we put the employee on AWOL based on the guidelines set by the company?
Answer: Disciplinary action may be imposed for violations of the company code of conduct or other relevant company policy. In the absence of such documents, disciplinary action may be imposed for the just causes enumerated in the Labor Code (serious misconduct, grave and habitual negligence, fraud, commission of a crime, analogous causes). The law and relevant jurisprudence also require compliance with procedural due process. Once you are able to determine that there is indeed a just cause and that due process has been observed, an employer may validly impose disciplinary action.

15. Question: Is a 4 day work week and 1 day unpaid legal for the time being in the crisis?
Answer: Labor Advisory 9-2020 allows employers to choose among the following flexible work arrangements: reduced work hours/days, rotation of employees, temporary closure, and work from home.

16. Question: How to communicate the reduction of Work hours/days, would a memo suffice indicating their new schedule?
Answer: Yes, a written notice sent via email or acknowledged via pen and paper would suffice.

17. Question: How do we go about processing disciplinary cases? We’re following twin notice rule – NTE & NOD and signature of employee is critical however with the current WFH arrangement, social distancing, etc. we’re doing skype con for admin hearing, will employee acknowledgment of discussion through e-mail confirmation suffice as adherence to due process?
Answer: The standards of due process in employee discipline were discussed by the Supreme Court in the case King of Kings Transport, Inc. vs. Mamac (G.R. No. 166208, June 29, 2007). The requirements to be complied with are a) The first written notice to be served on the employees should contain the specific causes or grounds for termination against them, and a directive that the employees are given the opportunity to submit their written explanation within a reasonable period; b) After serving the first notice, the employers should schedule and conduct a hearing or conference wherein the employees will be given the opportunity to: (1) explain and clarify their defenses to the charge against them; (2) present evidence in support of their defenses; and (3) rebut the evidence presented against them by the management; and lastly c) After determining that termination of employment is justified, the employers shall serve the employees a written notice of termination indicating that: (1) all circumstances involving the charge against the employees have been considered; and (2) grounds have been established to justify the severance of their employment. If these requirements are complied with, a termination may be considered legally justified. However, the ECQ and the COVID-19 pandemic are extraordinary circumstances, and employers are encouraged to exercise compassion at this time.

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COVID-19 QUICK REFERENCE SHEET

You can also download our Quick Reference Sheet here!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Who is this page for?

This page is for businesses of all industries and sizes, may it be in-office or in a work-from-home setup.

What is this page for?

This page offers FREE resources that include: legal advice, employee engagement surveys, webinars, HR solutions and support.

Who is Sprout?

Sprout Solutions is a leading HR solutions provider in the Philippines, that aims to help businesses to operate disruption-free even amidst crisis.

Is Sprout’s operations still ongoing?

Yes, Sprout has a strong Business Continuity Plan in place that ensures operations continue as usual.

Can Sprout support companies at this time?

With quarantine and social distancing measures in place, Sprout practices digital activation and virtual support to reach our customers and vice-versa.

How can I get in-touch with Sprout?

Send an email to sales@sprout.ph for all your questions and concerns.

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