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Bakit sumasahod ang mga Public School Teachers sa gitna ng krisis

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Para sa mga nagtanong kung sasahod paba ang mga public school teachers sa kabila ng COVID-19.

It is beyond dispute that public school teachers are full-time employees receiving their monthly salaries irrespective of the number of working days or teaching hours in a month. They are protected by law and afforded rights and privileges for the services they render to the school and the students.

However, they find themselves now in a most peculiar situation whereby they are forced to avert from classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If schools are ordered temporarily closed and teachers do not report, should they be paid? Yes, of course. This pandemic is in the nature of a work interruption beyond the employees’ control . .

As such, this cannot be considered as absences within the meaning of the law for which their monthly salaries may be withheld. Moreover, the “no work, no pay” principle is found inapplicable. The law contemplates a “no work” situation where the employees voluntarily absent themselves. Teachers, in this case, certainly do not, ad voluntatem, absent themselves during this deadly pandemic.

The pandemic, the absence of its cure, and government pronouncements constrained teachers to take leave from work. For this, they cannot be faulted nor can they be begrudged that which is due them under the law x x x x This, in itself, is a tacit recognition of the rather unusual state of affairs in which teachers find themselves.

Although said to be on forced leave, teachers are, nevertheless, burdened with the task of working during a period of time supposedly available for rest and private matters. There are forms to make, deadlines to meet, and periods within which to submit reports.

They may be considered by some to be on leave, the pandemic break could not be used effectively for the teacher’s own purposes for the nature of a teacher’s job imposes upon him further duties which must be done during the said period of time. Learning is a never-ending process.

Teachers must keep abreast of developments all the time. Teachers cannot also wait for the opening of the next SY to begin their work. Arduous preparation is necessary for the delicate task of educating our children. Teaching involves not only an application of skill and an imparting of knowledge but a responsibility which entails self-dedication and sacrifice.

The task of teaching ends not with the perceptible efforts of the petitioner’s members but goes beyond the classroom: a continuum where only the visible labor is relieved by academic intermissions. It would be most unfair for some to consider these teachers as employees on leave without pay to suit its purposes and, yet, in the meantime, continue availing of their services as they prepare for the next SY or complete all of the last SY’s requirements.

Furthermore, we may also by analogy apply the principle enunciated in the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code to wit: Sec. 4. Principles in Determining Hours Worked. — The following general principles shall govern in determining whether the time spent by an employee is considered hours worked for purposes of this Rule: x x x “(d)

The time during which an employee is inactive by reason of interruptions in his work beyond his control shall be considered time either if the imminence of the resumption of work requires the employee’s at the place of work or if the interval is too brief to be utilized effectively and gainfully in the employee’s own interest.” (Emphasis supplied).

The pandemic is an interruption beyond teachers’ control and it cannot be used “effectively nor gainfully in the employee’s interest” under their quarantined conditions. Thus, the pandemic break may also be considered as “hours worked.” For this, the teachers must be paid regular salaries.

Not only do the teachers continue to work during this recess, but much less do they cease to live and provide the needs of their families for which their salary is intended. The legal principles of “no work, no pay,” must necessarily give way to the purpose of the law to augment the income of employees to enable them to cope with the harsh living conditions brought about by the pandemic, and to protect employees against the ravages brought by this perilous condition.

Significantly, it is the commitment of the State to protect labor and to provide means by which the difficulties faced by the working force may best be alleviated. To submit to the people’s interpretation of the no work, no pay policy is to defeat this noble purpose, the Constitution, and the law mandate otherwise.

Provisions of the Law: 1. Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code 2. PDs 1614, 1634, 1678, and 1713 3. RA 4670, Magna Carta of Public School Teachers

by – Editha Piencenaves (ANHS GUIDANCE COUNSELOR)

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