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Press Release

Philippine companies take steps to ensure employees’ wellbeing and business continuity amid COVID-19 ECQ period

Total Rewards|Integrated Wellbeing
COVID 19 Coronavirus

April 21, 2020

Willis Towers Watson Philippines Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) Pulse Survey COVID-19 collates insights on how organizations are adjusting their work arrangements and policies to provide support to their employees.

PHILIPPINES, 21 April 2020 — With the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) covering the entire island of Luzon in the Philippines, the majority of organizations in the country have also implemented policies to ensure employee welfare and business continuity to minimize impact during the ECQ period, according to a recent survey by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading advisory, broking and solutions company. These included work-from-home arrangements, mostly for their corporate office-based employees across industries, while those in operations adopted a skeletal workforce or split operations arrangement. Thirty-five percent of these companies are largely from the Shared Services Outsourcing and Financial Services industries.

Chart 1: Work arrangements for office-based employees and those in operations

Graph showing additional support provided by companies to employees such as advance payment of 13th month pay, granting of additional bonuses, hazard pay for skeletal workforces and unchanged leave benefits
More than 50% of companies provide multiple types of work arrangements

Source: Willis Towers Watson Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) Survey Philippines, March 2020

Of the participating companies that have adopted the work-from-home arrangements, 56% are considering implementing either an Internet or a mobile plan assistance to ensure their employees are connected and able to work seamlessly. These are additional provisions from existing plans and delivered either through reimbursement or in-kind (e.g. pocket wi-fi device or mobile plan subscription) with the latter as a typical practice.

“COVID-19 has hugely impacted our communities and the Philippine economy. As more people are forced to work remotely, the operational effectiveness of many organizations is being tested in unprecedented ways. A strategic approach to the use of technology has become an enabler of resilience and competitive advantage,” said Patrick Marquina, Talent and Rewards Leader, Philippines, Willis Towers Watson.

For organizations with employees working in operations, most are still operating under ‘business-as-usual’. They typically provide support to employees with some form of shuttle or transportation services (86%), lodging (70%) and meals (77%) (transportation and accommodation as required by the government especially for BPO companies).

The pandemic has disrupted the way organizations conduct their business. However, based on the collected responses, a majority of the participating companies are progressively providing additional benefits and support to employees to minimize the impact of the pandemic to their business and workforce in the Philippines.

Eighty percent of the companies surveyed have implemented or are considering the provision of additional support to employees through the advance payment of 13th month pay (prorated), granting of additional bonuses, hazard pay for skeletal workforces and unchanged leave benefits.

Table 1: Additional provisions

Advance Payment of 13th Month Pay Advance Payment of Other Bonuses Grant of Additional Bonuses Hazard Pay and Other Allowances
Implemented 28% 19% - 21%
Approved but not yet Implemented 5% - 1% -
In Discussion 15% 5% 3% 18%

Source: Willis Towers Watson Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) Survey Philippines, March 2020

Other items provided albeit less common are hygiene kits, face masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE). In contrast, it is common for employers in neighboring countries in Asia Pacific (APAC), including China, Taiwan and Singapore to provide free protective kits, such as medical masks and anti-bacterial or sanitation products, to safeguard their employees and families.

Despite the negative economic outlook, most organizations in APAC have not adjusted their salary increase budgets similar to the responses collected in the Philippines. “Similar recent surveys conducted by Willis Towers Watson in other APAC countries found that over half of the employers expect a moderate or large negative impact on businesses in the next six months. However, amid the heightened concern over the impact the pandemic will have on business operations in the coming months, companies may start to implement some cost control measures. We expect companies will continue to evaluate their human capital programs and associated cost for managing people on a regular basis, as well as make every effort to protect their human capital during this period of uncertainty,” added Marquina.

The pandemic has affected more than 200 countries globally, including the Philippines. It continues to threaten the health and safety of many Filipinos since the first case was reported in January this year. In a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, the government has implemented an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) over the entire island of Luzon since March and expects to lift it in May. This covers mandatory home quarantine for all individuals (except those who fall under certain exceptions), suspension of public transportation, and limits on travel to and from the National Capital Region and Luzon.

About the Survey

This Pulse Survey Report intends to shed light on how organizations are adjusting their work arrangements and policies to provide support to their employees. Responses collected and presented are in addition to existing company programs and policies, and are given as a response to ECQ. Data was collected between 20 and 24 March 2020. A total number of 80 companies across eight industries provided their responses, with survey results presented in an aggregate approach.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and changes are occurring frequently. Data and inferences in this Press Release are based on responses collected during the period between 20 and 24 March. Accordingly, readers should be aware that certain content may have changed since the date of this publication.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at willistowerswatson.com.

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