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Regional wage boards cleared to hold hearings via teleconference

REGIONAL WAGE BOARDS have been given the go-ahead to conduct virtual hearings and consultations to adjust the minimum wage in their areas of responsibility, according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC).

In a phone interview, NWPC Executive Director Maria Criselda R. Sy said before the pandemic, wage hearings were limited to face-to-face meetings.

“The guidelines will accommodate the multiplatform… this will now allow multiple platforms for consultations,” she said, subject to “the discretion of the (regional wage) board.”

The NWPC released the new guidelines for wage setting via a notice published in a newspaper Monday.

In NWPC Guidelines No. 3, Series of 2020, the NWPC said, “The Commission and the Boards shall endeavor to meet physically in all its meetings. However, when there is an urgent matter to be addressed and where a physical or face-to-face meeting is not feasible for some or all members, a quorum may be constituted through the use of tele/videoconferencing technology.”

The guidelines will take effect after 15 days. Ms. Sy said while they are not yet in effect, no regional wage boards have found it possible to convene due to the restrictions on public gatherings.

By law, a regional wage board can only issue a new wage order after at least one year since the issuance of the last order. A new order requires consultations with both the labor and management representatives.

Private sector establishments may seek an exemption from paying their workers updated minimum wages if they employ less than 10 workers and/or their businesses were affected by calamities. — Gillian M. Cortez

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