A security officer checks the temperature of tenants of an office building in Manila on February 3, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
Employers urged to make 'work from home' an option amid nCoV threat
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 11, 2020 - 1:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — Employees must be given an option to “work from home” as the threat of the novel coronavirus that has infected over 40,000 people globally grows, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

The nCoV outbreak has killed more than 1,000 people across China since December, overtaking the global fatalities in the SARS epidemic in between 2002 and 2003. There have been two deaths outside mainland China: one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.

In a statement Tuesday, Hontiveros said employers should prioritize the safety of their workers.

“Para sa mga empleyadong pwede namang ‘work from home,’ dapat may ganoong option. Kung hindi naman kailangan mag-commute ang empleyado araw-araw, mas mapapangalagaan ang kalusugan nila kapag pwedeng magtrabaho sa bahay,”

(Those who can work from home must be given that option. If they don’t have to commute to work every day, they could take better care of their health if they work from home.)

Sen. Joel Villanueva—head of committee on labor, employment and human resources development—earlier said the private sector should adopt telecommuting as a work arrangement for employees who task can be done remotely.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act, which institutionalizes “work from home” arrangements in the private sector.

Hontiveros also called on employers to provide protective measures for their employees inside the workplace.

“All employees should have access to running water, soap, alcohol and hand sanitizer,” she said, adding surgical masks must be given to salesladies, cashiers and those working in the service sector.

At least 261 patients under investigation for possible nCoV are currently admitted, latest figure from the Department of Health showed.

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