WORKERS who have been furloughed since the start of quarantine restrictions in mid-March have reached over two million, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

In a briefing on Wednesday, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez said these employees placed on floating status come from over 96,000 establishments.

“They are employees who were either asked to go on forced leave or their companies were temporarily closed,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

Under Philippine law, an employee’s floating status could only last a maximum period of six months.

DoLE, however, released guidelines in view of the coronavirus crisis that will allow employers to expand this period provided there is a bargaining agreement with affected workers.

Most parts of the country are now under modified restrictions, but major urban areas including the capital region Metro Manila remain under stricter rules.

Meanwhile, Mr. Benavidez also reported that the department exceeded its 2020 labor inspection target of 64,000 establishments.

Of the companies inspected this year, he said 92% were found compliant with workplace guidelines such as occupational safety and health standards as well as new health protocols in consideration of the coronavirus threat.

“Our data shows that we have inspected more companies and establishments compared to last year,” he said.

In 2019, DoLE inspected 57,514 establishments out of the nearly one million nationwide. Gillian M. Cortez