Senator Manuel Lapid has filed a bill that seeks to amend RA 11261, otherwise known as the “First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act”, to extend the waiver of fees and charges to jobseekers who have lost their employment during the COVID 19 public health emergency.
Under Senate Bill 2090, all government agencies and instrumentalities, including Government-Owned and-Controlled Corporations, Local Government Units and government hospitals will not collect fees or charges from jobseekers who lost their jobs during the COVID 19 pandemic.
This was as a result of authorized causes such as installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment, closure or cessation of business operations or diseases.
The waiver of payment is for fees or charges paid in connection with the application for and the granting of licenses, proofs of identification, clearances, certificates or other documents usually required in the course of employment locally or abroad.
“We should rescue our people who lost their jobs due to this pandemic. It’s been more than a year since the government imposed a lockdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but even if there is no lockdown, people are still suffering,” Lapid said.
Aside from the health sector, the effect of the current pandemic in society is also severe in the labor sector. Based on the October 2020 Labor Force Survey, underemployment and unemployment rates stood at 14.4% and 8.7%, respectively.
At the regional level, three regions reported double-digit unemployment rates: National Capital Region (NCR) (12.4%), Ilocos (11.5%) and Calabarzon (11%).
According to the same survey, 12.7% of workers who are forced or limited to work less than 40 hours per week (or on a part-time basis) cite the Enhanced Community Quarantine lockdown or the COVID 19 pandemic as the cause for such.
Furthermore, 8.6% and 3.2%, respectively, of the latter demographic said that they are out of work because of poor business conditions or a reduction in clients/work.
Meanwhile, Lapid’s bill proposes that in order to qualify for the benefit of waived fees, the jobseeker must submit a duly issued certificate of employment or notice of termination, or in absence thereof, a barangay certification which shall be issued free of charge.