PHILIPPINES— The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has distributed more than P8-billion worth of emergency employment and cash assistance that benefited almost 2 million informal sector workers who were badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as calamities that hit the country.

In DoLE’s year-end report, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said the aid was released under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad), a community-based aid that provides emergency employment to displaced, underemployed and seasonal workers.

Tupad funded the emergency employment provided to 1.971 million informal sector workers whose source of income were wiped out due to the effects of the pandemic.

The Tupad program provides workers in the informal sector a 10-day emergency employment, but not exceeding 30-day depending on the work to be performed, and would be paid minimum wage prevailing in their respective areas.

DoLE also provided P283 million to 62,290 workers affected by the Northern Luzon earthquake and Typhoons “Paeng” and “Karding.”

To provide workers with improved and sustainable livelihood, entrepreneurship and work opportunities, the DoLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) or Kabuhayan program, also provided P358 million livelihood assistance to 21,120 workers.

Meanwhile, the Employees Compensation Program (ECP) provided assistance to 3,725 workers.

ECP is an attached agency of DoLE that provides a package of benefits for public and private sector employees and their dependents for work-related sickness, injury, disability or death, including work-related acquired Covid-19,

The ECP has been granting claims for work-related Covid-19 since 2020 under the “increased risk” theory where an illness can be compensable provided that it can be shown by substantial evidence that the illness is caused by factors inherent in the worker’s nature of work or his/her working conditions.

In the same report, DoLE also reported that it was able to settle, through its National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), thousands of cases involving monetary and collective bargaining awards totaling P3.443 billion and benefiting 53,058 workers in 2022.

NCMB reported that its case management mechanism disposed of 19,802 cases with P2.353 billion monetary award to 28,466 workers.

Under DoLE’s Single Entry Approach (SENA), 14,960 workers received a total of P618 million monetary award.

SENA is an administrative mechanism that provides speedy, impartial, inexpensive, and accessible settlement procedures for all labor issues or conflicts to prevent them from ripening into full-blown disputes or actual labor cases.

With a 99 percent settlement rate, DoLE’s Preventive Mediation mechanism, meanwhile, awarded P227 million to 5,672 workers.

For settled notice of strike/lockouts, 3,938 workers received a monetary award of P245 million.

DoLE also recorded a 100-percent settlement rate of actual strike/lockout during the year in review, benefiting 22 workers with P384 thousand.

DoLE reminds that any party to a labor dispute, either the union or management, may seek the assistance of NCMB or any of its regional branches by means of a formal request for conciliation and preventive mediation.

Depending on the nature of the problem, a request may be filed in the form of consultation, notice of preventive mediation, or notice of strike/lockout.

Meanwhile, 332,037 workers, employees, as well as students have benefited from the Labor and Employment Education Service or LEES.

LEES aims to increase awareness of workers’ and employers’ rights and responsibilities, work ethics, values and skills.