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Top PH firms offer safety nets to employees amid COVID-19 pandemic

Top PH firms offer safety nets to employees amid COVID-19 pandemic

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Hans Sy

For some of the country’s largest employers, charity begins at home as the whole of Luzon is subjected to an “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) or lockdown meant to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s leading conglomerate, SM Investments Corp., assured all employees on Friday that they would receive their regular compensation during the ECQ period from March 16 to April 14, 2020 while emergency financial assistance would be given to its front liners, security guards and janitorial staff.

The Aboitiz Group also announced on Friday P900 million in assistance package to help its team members cope with the pandemic. The package covers the early release of the end-March salary and the 13th or 14th month pay of the group’s over 11,000 team members across its strategic business units in power, banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, and land.

Fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. hatched a P1-billion emergency response fund for its own employees as well as those of its partner-enterprises. With this emergency fund, employees will continue to receive their full month’s salary during the ECQ period. They will also receive their 13th month pay by April 30.

Tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan approved the early release of 13th month pay for employees of PLDT, Smart and Manila Electric Co. Other companies that agreed to advance the salary and 13th month pay of their employees are: Asian Terminal, Solaire Resort Hotel, Gokongwei Group of Companies, Lucio Tan group of companies, and San Miguel group of companies.

The country’s oldest business house, Ayala group, earlier announced a P2.4-billion COVID-19 emergency response package for employees and businesses within its eco-system. This consists of wages, bonuses, leave conversions and loan deferments primarily for the extended workforce of partner-employers so they may continue to be paid for the duration of the quarantine period.

Property developer Cebu Landmasters Inc., a leading property developer in Visayas and Mindanao, also approved the early release of its 14th month bonus to support the needs of its regular workforce. It is also providing daily allowance to its 5,000-strong third-party construction workers in the following cities: Cebu, Mandaue, Mactan, Davao, CDO, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Iloilo, Bohol and Ormoc. Construction work has continued in CLI’s bailiwick.

“These positive management decisions raise workers’ loyalty by improving the quality of production and better customer service. The gesture promotes unity and reinforces Filipino bayanihan during these distressful times for workers and families. We urge other companies, big or small, to do the same, to help the workers and their families during these times,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of Associated Labor Unions. Seno was commenting on the waiver of shopping mall rental fees and the early release of salary and 13th month pay of major companies.

“In these trying times, we are in unchartered territories. Let’s be one with each other, united in the spirit of service. Let’s be mindful of our front liners and help with their need to be alert so they can continue to do their best in working for the safety and health of our communities,” said Hans Sy on behalf of the Sy family and SM group.

The SM group assured that all employees would receive their regularly scheduled salaries during the ECQ period without deductions made against their vacation and sick leave credits.

The company’s front liners, who comprise the skeletal workforce, will be provided with premium pay. All security guards and janitorial staff will receive financial assistance of P5,000 for the period.

Aboitiz Group president Sabin Aboitiz admitted there’s a lot of anxiety as “during these trying times, we understand financial security is critical for all.” He noted the best way the Aboitiz Group could support the government’s campaign against COVID-19 is to let its team members stay home.

Outside of their own organizations, big businesses are also mobilizing support the country’s defenses against COVID-19.

Ty family-led GT Capital Holdings and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. earmarked a P200 million fund while SM Investments Corp., Jollibee Foods Corp., Gokongwei group, Filinvest group and Lopez group all committed P100 million, mostly to aid medical workers and uniformed personnel enforcing the Luzon-wide lockdown.

Major property developers SM Prime, Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, Megaworld Corp. and Filinvest Land all announced rent condonation to affected tenants. In the case of SM, the waiver of rent applies to tenants across its malls nationwide.