The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has made available multiple alternative work arrangements (AWA) that government agencies can adopt while the country is placed under a state of public health emergency due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
These are work-from-home arrangement, skeleton workforce, four-day or compressed workweek, and staggered working hours. An agency may also adopt work arrangements consisting of a combination of these, or other work arrangements appropriate and applicable to the agency considering the prevailing community quarantine in the area where it is located and the nature of work performed by its employees.
“These may be difficult times, but it is during these times that our citizens need our government to be effective and remain responsive to their needs. These interim guidelines would ensure that government agencies continue to fulfill their mandate amid the pandemic while protecting the health and safety of their workers,” CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said.
CSC Resolution No. 2000540 (Revised Interim Guidelines for Alternative Work Arrangements and Support Mechanisms for Workers in the Government During the Period of State of National Emergency Due to Covid-19 Pandemic), promulgated on May 7, 2020 and circularized via CSC Memorandum Circular No. 10, s. 2020, contains the complete set of guidelines for implementing the said AWA.
Work-from-home (WFH) refers to an output-oriented work arrangement that authorizes the worker to produce outputs or results and accomplishments outside of the office. This shall be adopted in areas placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) by the president. For agencies in areas placed under general community quarantine (GCQ), where public transportation is limited and physical/social distancing in the workplace is required, WFH is an option.
For areas placed under GCQ, employees aged below 21 and those who are 60 years old and above, as well as those with immunodeficiency, co-morbidities or other health risks, pregnant women, including those who reside with the aforementioned, shall be under WFH arrangement, except when their services are indispensable under the circumstances or when office work is permitted.
Skeleton (skeletal) workforce pertains to a work arrangement where a minimum number of employees is required to man the office to render service when full staffing is not possible. Agencies in GCQ areas shall adopt a skeleton workforce as one of its AWA. During ECQ, on the other hand, a skeleton workforce may be allowed unless a different operational capacity is provided in agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, border control, and other critical services as identified in the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine.
Employees designated as skeletal workforce shall be entitled to hazard pay on top of the compensatory time off or overtime pay granted for authorized services rendered outside of the employee’s regular work hours.
In a four-day (compressed) workweek arrangement, the employees’ workweek is compressed to four days each week. This may be adopted by agencies in areas placed under GCQ.
Agencies may also adopt staggered working Hours, which applies to offices or agencies that observe work shifting or flexible working time. For this purpose, staggered working hours refers to the existing 24/7 shifting schedule and the flexible working time schedule. This may be implemented as a means to limit the number of employees present at the workplace at any given time.
Agencies may use a combination of two or more aforementioned AWA, including any other type of work arrangement it has adopted. They shall formulate their internal rules and regulations to effectively implement the AWA they adopted. These guidelines must include the appropriate AWA for employees who travel to and from areas placed under different quarantine levels, e.g., from ECQ area to GCQ area and vice-versa or from quarantine-free area to ECQ or GCQ area.
To ensure that public service delivery is not prejudiced during the implementation of AWA, a monitoring mechanism, such as submission of daily or weekly accomplishment reports, must be implemented.
To protect government workers’ health and safety, the CSC requires agencies to implement precautionary measures before the resumption of normal operations, such as disinfection and decontamination activities, the conduct of health status check among employees, and modification of workplace layout to ensure observance of physical distancing requirements.
Agencies are also mandated to enforce health standard protocol at all times such as wearing face masks, taking of body temperature, and set up sanitation stations.
Support mechanisms, such as health/psychosocial interventions, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, and reasonable transportation facilities and housing quarters, should be made available to government workers.
These revised interim guidelines shall take effect retroactively on March 16, 2020 and shall remain in force until the state of national emergency has been lifted by the president.
The complete text of CSC memorandum circular No. 10, s. 2020 may be accessed from the CSC website at www.csc.gov.ph.