By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

MORE listed companies are allocating emergency funds to support their workers during the month-long Luzon lockdown.

Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC), the Aboitiz Group, SM Group and Wilcon Depot, Inc. on Friday announced financial assistance programs for employees who are affected by the work disruption arising from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

In a statement, JFC said it is setting aside P1 billion as an emergency response fund to provide employees in its offices, stores, commissaries and logistics centers with financial support to help them cope during the ECQ.

Those under the joint employment program for senior citizens and persons with disabilities and the partner employers in JFC stores will also be included in the budget.

“In these times, we know how people are worrying about their safety and how to take care of their families. We want to help lessen their worries and we are setting up this fund to be able to help them through this difficult time,” JFC Founder and Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong said in the statement.

“We are moved by how different individuals and sectors are taking action to help one another and we are one with them in supporting the government…,” he added.

JFC committed to give its employees their full salary during the one-month lockdown period. Their 13th month pay will also be given in advance on April 30.

The Aboitiz Group in a separate statement said it has allocated P900 million for employee assistance, covering the early release of end-March salaries and the 13th or 14th month pay.

The company likewise committed to shoulder employees’ medical expenses that are related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“[D]uring these trying times, we understand financial security is critical for all… [W]e wish that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy in your homes,” Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz was quoted in a statement as saying.

Employees of the Aboitiz Group in Luzon and Visayas are now following a work-from-home scheme. The banking and financial services units are implementing a skeletal workforce, while the construction unit is on normal operations but operating with strict precautionary measures.

Golden Arches Development Corporation (McDonald’s Philippines) said it is releasing P500 million to provide assistance for its employees and workers. This covers restaurant crew and managers whether they are unable to come to work or not, while head office employees’ salaries will be given during the quarantine.

For the crew and managers who are manning selected open stores, they will get a special premium pay package and care kits that include face masks and alcohol.

The fund will also cover food to be donated to frontliners such as medical health workers, LGU workers, NGO volunteers, and the marginalized sector.

“Amidst any crisis, people must come first; we do what we can to ensure their welfare. We also have a responsibility to our partners to ensure that they can continue doing business and be able to care for their own people. Finally, as a Filipino company, we have a duty to be a partner of the government in serving the public in whatever way we can,” McDonald’s Philippines Chairman and Founder Dr. George Yang said in a statement.

For the SM Group, the company said its employees will receive regular compensation with no deductions during one-month quarantine period until April 12.

SM Group will also give an extension of its emergency financial assistance to frontliners, security guards and janitorial staff: the frontliners will receive a “premium pay,” while security guards and janitorial staff will get P5,000 for the period.

“In these trying times, we are in uncharted territories… Let’s be mindful of our frontliners and help with their need to be alert so they can continue to do their best in working for the safety and health of our communities,” SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Executive Committee Chairman Hans T. Sy was quoted in a statement as saying.

Wilcon Depot said its affected workforce will receive financial assistance even as its corporate offices and stores are shuttered during the Luzon lockdown.

In a statement, Wilcon said its employees will receive their salaries in full during the duration of the ECQ.

Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine until 12 a.m. of Apr. 13. During the period, the whole island will observe “strict home quarantine” with some exemptions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.