Press Releases
DOLE LAGUNA SETTLES FIRST VIRTUAL SENA REQUEST

The “New Normal” way of working has caught up with DOLE Laguna Provincial Office. Zoom Meetings, Google Meets and webinars have become the norm. Given the restrictions on face to face meetings to prevent the spread of Covid-19 virus, the office had to resort to virtual meetings to cope with the steady stream of online queries and complaints.

With the gradual downgrading of strict lockdowns by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment through Department Order 214 Series of 2020 has allowed the resumption of the filing of actions involving issues of employment and conditions of work. It has likewise encouraged the use of virtual platforms to conduct hearings and conferences.

Provincial Director Guido R. Recio felt relieved with the resumption of regular filing of actions, “We never stopped receiving complaints with the onset of the pandemic considering the increase onCOVID-19 shutdown of businesses. I am glad that we can resort to virtual meetings to lessen the load especially on the Requests for Assistance (RFA) under the Single Entry Approach (SENA) conciliation proceedings including those referred by the Regional Office,” he added.

The resort to virtual meetings has proven beneficial to Sofia, who was hired as an office staff by a company involved in the food business. Like most employees, the pandemic has greatly affected her. She failed to report for work and her condition was made more complicated by her pregnancy.

When she lost her job, she immediately made an urgent email message to DOLE Laguna about her plight. She wanted to personally visit the DOLE Laguna Provincial Office but pregnant women are not allowed to go out during the quarantine period. The office has prioritized online queries and the case of Sofia was one of them.

Through Google Meet, she was able to confer with one of the SENA Officers, Rudy Sinay. She was able to pour out her sentiments against her company in the first few minutes being distraught, pregnant and without a job. She is due to give birth the next month.

After the assessment of her case, the office immediately scheduled a virtual conference together with her former employer. Given that there two sides to a story, the conference was a way for the office to thresh out the issues and concerns of both parties, and maybe work out a way for settlement.

The first virtual conference was held on 16 September 2020 with Sofia speaking first and arguing her issues of illegal dismissal, nonpayment of social benefits, last pay, 13th month pay, violation of privacy and maternity benefits.

On the other side happens to be the company lawyer together with the HR Officer. The counsel for the Responding Party denied the allegations on illegal dismissal and violation of privacy. The lawyer however added that they are willing to release her money claims including payment of the unexpired term of her contract, all amounting to P15, 000.00.

Sofia’s counter-argument was that the management was wrong in the computation of her 13th month pay. She was willing to accept the amount but demanded an additional amount of P30,000 for the issue of illegal dismissal. In response, the lawyer claimed that he was only allowed to negotiate for P15,0000.00. Nonetheless, he will confer with management for her demands. Another conference was set on 16 September 2020.

The second virtual conference would be the clincher for the request. Sofia asked for additional P30,000.000 for the settlement of her request. Would the company give in to her demand?

As the meeting commenced, Sofia was composed but determined. The lawyer, in his usual stoic demeanor, made the last offer of P15,000 as settlement amount. Sofia, thinking of her situation, accepted the offer. Of course, the hearing officer made sure that the issue of maternity benefits be acted upon by the company as well.

The last conference was held on 23 September 2020 at the DOLE Laguna Provincial Office. Being pregnant, Sofia executed a Special Power of Attorney in behalf of her partner, Leonardo for the former to receive her money claims. They were boththankful that the case was finally settled with the help of DOLE Laguna.

Now, the couple can focus on the birth of their baby. When the Hearing Officer inquired on the gender of the child, he laughed and said, “We bought pink clothes but we are having a boy!” Well, that is one issue that DOLE Laguna cannot settle!

By:

Rudyboy R. Sinay
DOLE LPO Labor Information Officer

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2020-09-30
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