Among the many challenges that we face during this pandemic, how to handle or interpret labor laws that may affect our business, has become an important consideration. We asked our resource person on labor relations law, Atty. Alvin Alburo, on what should be done to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, as we all adjust to the new normal.
Company policies should reflect labor laws
Company policies, rules and regulations ought to help employees in navigating the legalities of their employment. Through these policies provided to them by the company, they can be enlightened or educated of the existing labor laws.
Thus, company policies, rules and regulations must be framed, amended, or revised, as the case may be, to reflect labor laws.
They must be expressed or written in simple words that are comprehensive to employees to prevent misunderstanding.
For instance, the company should have a clear policy regarding the process of termination or temporary lay-off in case of closure or suspension of business operations. In this way, employees would understand that placing them under floating status caused by an inevitable event (i.e. COVID-19 pandemic) is lawful. Thus, preventing numerous and unnecessary labor complaints against the company.
Clear company policies, rules and regulations, when observed and practised, prevents the unnecessary filing of baseless complaints by the employees against their employers.
Hiring process should mirror labor laws
The earliest possible opportunity that a company may develop an employer-employee relationship with an applicant or candidate is during the hiring and selection process.
It would be time saving to take advantage of this period to communicate clearly to the candidate the present and existing company policies, rules and regulations on labor standards (i.e. hours of work even if work-from-home, overtime, holiday pay, absence without leave, etc.), as well as labor relations (i.e. termination, etc.).
During this stage, candidates must have a clear picture of their rights and responsibilities in case of engagement. Also, during this process, encourage the candidate or applicant to raise questions. After which, answer such queries within the context of your existing and lawful company policies.
It is advisable that during this stage, applicants must be informed about the company’s policy regarding the process of termination (i.e.“last in first out”, “efficiency rating”, etc.). In this way, as future members of the company they will have a better understanding on its lawful actions. This may also encourage them to perform well once they became part of the company.
Employment contracts should embody labor laws
Employment contracts must be crafted in common words in order for the employees to understand its content. Lawyers who craft employment contracts should use words which can be universally understood. In preparation of an employment contract, the same must be in accordance with existing labor laws. Make sure that it contains the minimum requirements of labor standards.
Before allowing the employee to sign the employment contract, the terms and conditions must be explained in a language known to and understood by the employee, and that the same is what the law provides.
For instance, the employment contract should include that employees may be compelled, on lawful grounds and with the corresponding premium pay, to work on days which they are not required to work (i.e. holidays, rest days, etc.), to avoid serious losses on the business operations. It must also clearly indicate in the contract that during inevitable circumstances such as COVID-19 pandemic, the company may reduce the number of workdays that will result in reduction of employee’s wages.
Undeniably, clear company policies and practices, employment contracts among others, will help the employees understand not only the vital role they will have inside the company but also the current and existing labor laws.