The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that work in its main office in Intramuros, Manila, and its regional office in the National Capital Region (NCR) have been suspended on January 14 (Friday) and January 17 (Monday).
In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the work suspension order was due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, particularly in NCR, and “the increasing number of cases in the department.”
Bello said that 128 DOLE officials and staff have been infected as of January 13. This accounts for about 21 percent of DOLE’s central office personnel of around 600.
“Services of the Department of Labor and Employment in the central office in Intramuros and its regional office in the National Capital Region will not be available to the public on Friday, January 14, and Monday, January 17,” the department said in an advisory.
In a memorandum issued on Thursday, January 13, Bello directed all heads of offices, services, and bureaus, including the NCR regional office to resume work on January 18.
Earlier in the week, Bello directed all DOLE offices and attached agencies in areas with a surging number of COVID cases to implement alternative work arrangements, including work from home, for their personnel.
“Skeletal [sic] workforce shall be limited to those performing or providing essential services,” Bello said in an administrative order issued on Tuesday.
The work arrangements took effect on Wednesday and will last until January 30, he added.
The flexible work arrangements, however, do not cover personnel in the offices of the Secretary, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, and the office of the directors.
Bello urged all DOLE personnel to continue observing public health standards and other safety protocols in the workplace to help curb the spread of COVID-19.