Amicably settling labor disputes even amid the pandemic can now be processed without delay as the labor department now implements online conciliation-mediation under the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) program.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III recently issued Administrative Order No. 215, series of 2020 providing the guidelines on the implementation of online SEnA or e-SEnA, from the filing of the request for assistance up to the settlement or referral of the complaint.
SEnA is an administrative approach that aims to provide speedy, impartial, inexpensive, and accessible settlement procedures of all labor issues or conflicts to prevent them from ripening into full-blown disputes or actual labor cases.
Through e-SEnA, parties no longer have to visit the Single Entry Assistance Desk to file a request for assistance and to attend SEnA conferences.
Under the guidelines, a requesting party may access the SEnA form at https://sena.dole.gov.ph.
Once accomplished, the form may be submitted through facsimile, electronic mail, Messenger, or Viber. It may also be submitted personally at the designated SEnA Desks, but online submission is highly encouraged by the Department.
The assigned SEnA Desk Officer shall then call the requesting party within three working days from receipt of the request for assistance for interview or validation of information. The details on the conduct of the SEnA conference shall likewise be discussed.
Afterward, the notice of conference, which indicates the date, time, and mode of the initial conference, shall be sent to the parties through the use of courier services, facsimile, electronic mail, Messenger, Viber, Google calendar, or other digital platforms.
To minimize face-to-face contact among the requesting and responding parties, the SEnA conference shall be conducted through video conferencing or through teleconferencing, whichever is applicable.
In case of non-availability of digital platforms or when either or both parties refuse video conferencing or teleconferencing, face-to-face conference may be allowed.
The number of representatives shall be limited to only two for each party. Should there be more than one employee or worker involved in the request for assistance, the number of attendees for the requesting party shall be increased to three.
The conference room, with plastic barriers installed, shall also be arranged such that the SEnA Desk Officer and the clients are seated at least 1.5 meters apart from one another. The room, tables, chairs, and barriers shall be disinfected after every conference.
Participants shall also wear face masks and face shields and shall have their temperatures taken through thermal scanning.
Once settlement is reached, the SEnA Desk Officer shall draft the agreement and send copies to the parties, and secure their concurrence.
Parties may agree to meet at the company premises for the signing of the agreement, implementation of its terms, and payout of benefits. If practicable, the SEnA Desk Officer may also join and witness the signing.
If the signing of the agreement at the company premises is not possible, the same shall be done at the DOLE office at a date agreed upon by parties.
If the request for assistance remains unsettled or after the lapse of the mandated 30-day period for conciliation-mediation, and the requesting party decides to pursue the issue in another office, the SEnA Desk Officer shall prepare and sign the referral form and send it to the requesting party.