Don't require all workers to physically report, govt offices told

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

May 30, 2020, 8:15 am

MANILA – The Civil Service Commission (CSC) on Friday discouraged government agencies from requiring all employees to physically report for work once their areas shift to general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1.

During the Laging Handa virtual briefing, CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada noted that GCQ and modified GCQ (MGCQ) do not equate to a "full" workforce in government offices.

Citing CSC Memorandum Circular 10, series of 2020, Lizada said government agencies may still adopt alternative working arrangements, such as the work-from-home scheme, skeleton workforce, four-day or compressed workweek, and staggered working hours.

"These are still in place. Huwag po ninyong ipa-100 percent ang mga empleyado sa darating na June 1 (Don’t ask 100 percent of your workforce to report for duty starting June 1)," she said.

Under the memorandum, an agency may adopt other applicable work arrangements considering the prevailing community quarantine in the area where it is located.

Lizada said government workers who are senior citizens, pregnant, and with health conditions must be allowed to work from home.

"To all head of agencies, hindi po ibig sabihin na GCQ or modified GCQ wala nang virus. Mayroon pa rin (To all heads of agencies, having GCQ or MGCQ does not mean that the coronavirus disease 2019 [Covid-19] is no longer there. It is still there). It is just the limitation/leniency on the movement and leniency on transportation. But the virus is still there," she said. "Senior citizens, pregnant women, those with co-morbidities, kailangan pong work from home sila. Hindi po tayo in full force pag nag-GCQ or MGCQ po tayo. Still, mayroon din po tayong alternative work arrangements (they should work from home. We are still not in full force during GCQ or MGCQ. Still, there are alternative work arrangements)."

In considering work arrangement, Lizada said the "formula" must still be based on safe physical distancing.

Hazard pay

At the same time, she clarified that government workers physically reporting to the office will no longer be entitled to hazard pay during GCQ.

"Pag nag-GCQ na po tayo, wala na pong hazard pay (Once we are under GCQ, there will be no more hazard pay)," Lizada said, adding it is only given during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

President Rodrigo Duterte, through Administrative Order 26 signed last March, granted a Covid-19 daily hazard pay of PHP500 to civil servants reporting as part of the skeleton workforce during ECQ.

In an earlier address, the chief executive announced the shift to GCQ of Metro Manila, Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, and Albay starting June 1.

As government offices resume work in GCQ areas, the CSC in a previous statement called on agencies to undertake the "necessary preparations."

"While the government’s efficiency and responsiveness remain inviolable in the middle of this Covid-19 pandemic, this must be balanced with the need to protect the safety and health of the public sector workforce," it said.

Support mechanisms, such as health/psychosocial interventions, provision of personal protective equipment to employees, and reasonable transportation facilities and housing quarters, should be made available to government workers, it added.

No automatic passing marks

Meanwhile, Lizada belied posts circulating on social media claiming all civil service examinees, both professional level and sub-professional level, will automatically get passing grades.

"Ito po ay 101 percent fake news, kasi kinakailangan po ang pagpasok po sa gobyerno ay (because entering government service) must be based on merit and fitness. What kind of government servant will you become if, at this early stage, you do not verify (such fake news)?" she said.

Lizada advised all government workers and the public to verify before sharing any information.

"You have a corresponding responsibility and duty to check your resources, verify your resources," she said.

On the next Civil Service examination, Lizada said the CSC is currently working on practical ways to file applications instead of the usual physical handling of paper.

"We are thinking of online filing, online na lahat (everything is online) – not the exam proper but the process of applying for the exam. Please bear with us. We are restructuring the how many years of pen and paper exam na twice a year po (that is given twice a year)," she said. (PNA)