Azucena explains 'labor legislation'

C.A. Azucena, Jr. (CAA. Jr's) is an award-winning and respected author and expert in labor law. His textbooks in labor law are used in almost all law schools all over the country. He has been cited by the Supreme Court of the Philippines multiple times. In fact, in the case of David v. Macasio (G.R. No. 195466; July 2, 2014), Justice Brion adopted his views regarding the distinguishing characteristic of "pakyaw" or task basis engagement, as opposed to straight-hour wage payment.

SOURCE: Pages 7 to 9. Azucena, C. A. (2013). The Labor Code: with Comments and Cases (Vol. 1). National Book Store.

Labor legislation consists of statutes, regulations and jurisprudence governing the relations between capital and labor, by providing for certain employment standards and a legal framework for negotiating, adjusting and administering those standards and other incidents of employment.

The above definition shows that labor legislation is broadly divided into labor standards and labor relations. We define labor standards law as that which provide the least terms and conditions of employment that employers must comply with and to which employees are entitled as a matter of legal right. Labor standards, as defined more specifically by jurisprudence, are the minimum requirements prescribed by existing laws, rules and regulations relating to wages, hours of work, cost-of-living allowance, and other monetary and welfare benefits, including occupational, safety, and health standards.

Labor relations law, on the other hand, defines the status, rights and duties, and the institutional mechanisms that govern the individual and collective interactions, of employers, employees or their representatives.

Although the distinction between labor standards and labor relations is useful for academic purposes, they in reality overlap. For instance, the grievance machinery (the in-house method to resolve usually an employee’s complaint) is a labor relations mechanism, but very often the subject of the complaint is labor standards such as unpaid overtime work or a disciplinary action. Figuratively, one may think of labor standards as the material or the substance to be processed while labor relations is the mechanism that processes the substance.

Thus defined, Books One to Four of the Labor Code deal largely with labor standards while Books Five and Six cover labor relations.
Issues about employment tenure and termination fall in the area of labor relations. The Supreme Court itself, in a decision penned by a former labor secretary, said; “It is an elementary rule in the law on labor relations that even a probationary employee is entitled to security of tenure.” Even prior to the Labor Code, when labor laws were scattered in more than sixty statutes, employment termination was treated academically as a subject in labor relations. For instance, writers Perfecto V. Fernandez and Camilo D. Quiazon took up the subject of employee dismissal in their Volume I titled “Labor Relations” and not in Volume II “Labor Standards” (1963 and 1964 editions). In practice in many private business firms the line between labor standards and labor relations is not an issue except perhaps to identify the specialization of staff in the human resource department. To cover both labor standards and labor relations, including motivational programs, the name “employment relations” is used.

The Philippines’ “labor relations law” is simply called “labor law” in most US universities; our “labor standards law” roughly corresponds to US “employment law.”

Is “labor” different from “industrial” relations? Again, the question is largely theoretical. Some academics use labor relations to refer to situations involving unionized companies and industrial relations for non-unionized ones, or labor relations to refer to matters internal to the labor sector and industrial relations to management-labor interactions. The two terms are, practically, interchangeable.

“Labor,” in ordinary signification, is understood as physical toil although it does not necessarily exclude the application of skill, thus there is skilled and unskilled labor. “Skill,” by dictionary definition, is the familiar knowledge of any art or science, united with readiness and dexterity in execution or performance or in the application of the art or science to practical purposes.

“Work” is broader than “labor” as “work” covers all forms of physical or mental exertion, or both combined, for the attainment of some object other than recreation or amusement per se.

For this reason “worker” is broader than “employee,” as “workers” may refer to self-employed people and those working in the service and under the control of another, regardless of rank, title, or nature of work. A messenger, as well as a manager, is a worker. In fact, under Article 13 of the Labor Code, any member of the labor force, whether employed or unemployed, is a “worker.”

“Employee” is a salaried person working for another who controls or supervises the means, manner or method of doing the work. Employment relationship is expounded in Book III of this work.