On 5-7 August, representatives from the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) participated in the 'Virtual Expert Dialogue on the Rapid Assessment for ASEAN: Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on Livelihoods of ASEAN Population', an online video conference aimed at reviewing and validating the draft rapid assessment report on the impacts of the pandemic from The Asia Foundation (TAF).

The findings of the report highlight the wide range of assistance and their varying delivery mechanisms implemented by governments in the region. During the discussions, there was consensus that a whole-of-government approach is integral for the most effective application of crisis response.  Member states are encouraged to look into instating institutional frameworks that incorporate vertical and horizontal coordination.

During the sectoral dialogue on Labor, on the second day of the conference, DOLE Assistant Secretary and Concurrent BLE Director Dominique Rubia-Tutay called for the conduct of an ASEAN-wide research on the effectivity of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements during a pandemic.

"Work-from-home became popular, but came with issues," she said, "Low productivity of some workers, complications with the separation of work from family obligations, and increased work hours, are some that frequently come up."

"There is also a rise in mental health concerns for those working remotely, and data security challenges particularly for the IT-BPM industry." She continued, "The pandemic hastened adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, but the economy is plagued by infrastructure limitations: connectivity and lag time issues. Research can shed light on how effective this arrangement is in a pandemic situation and help inform policies moving forward to the new normal."

This is in line with the Bureau's thrust for active labor market interventions grounded on labor market information and research. The BLE, understanding the importance of rapid situation analysis in formulating immediate to long-term strategies, welcomes the draft report from TAF recognizing its potential in guiding policy formulation to address concerns in social and economic development and human rights during the pandemic and thereafter.

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