Labor law v. Social legislation


According to Azucena (2013), there is a distinction between "labor law" and "social legislation." However, it is not easy to see the difference.

Labor law has two main branches: labor standards law and labor relations law. Labor standards law deals with the minimum benefits and terms and conditions of employment that an employee is entitled to as a matter of right and an employer is obliged to give his employees as a matter of obligation. On the other hand, labor relations law concerns itself with the adjustment of such terms and conditions through bargaining and other remedies.

Whereas, social legislation is a broad term that may cover labor laws. According to Social Legislation | Encyclopedia.com, laws that seek to promote the common good, generally by protecting and assisting the weaker members of society, are considered to be social legislation.

Azucena defines social legislation as those laws that provide particular kinds of protection or benefits to society or segments thereof in furtherance of social justice. In that sense, labor laws are necessarily social legislation. Agrarian reform law is a social legislation, so is the law providing for a social security system. The Labor Code provisions on State Insurance Fund to cover work-related injuries and occupational diseases are, likewise, pieces of social legislation.

In one case, the Supreme Court held that Republic Act 7641, an amendment to the Labor Code's provisions on retirement pay, is undoubtedly a social legislation. The law has been enacted as a labor protection measure and as a curative statute that — absent a retirement plan devised by, an agreement with, or a voluntary grant from, an employer — can respond, in part at least, to the financial well-being of workers during their twilight years soon following their life of labor. There should be little doubt about the fact that the law can apply to labor contracts still existing at the time the statute has taken effect, and that its benefits can be reckoned not only from the date of the law's enactment but retroactively to the time said employment contracts have started. (G.R. No. 110861. November 14, 1994)
Azucena admits in his books that some authors may insist to differentiate and contend that labor laws directly affect employment while social legislation governs effects of employment. He gave an example of why this attempt to distinguish fails:

"[I]t is hardly defensible to say that emergency medical treatment rendered at the worksite to a worker is covered by labor law but not by social legislation, while medical treatment rendered outside the workplace to the same person for the same injury involves a social legislation but not a labor law. Specifically, how can one say that medical treatment under Article 162 of the Labor Code is labor law but not social legislation, while sickness benefit under Section 14 of the Social Security law is social legislation but not labor law?"

The discussion above is based on an outline by Azucena (2013). His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide. SOURCE: Azucena, C. A. (2013). The Labor Code: with Comments and Cases (Vol. 1). National Book Store. https://www.rexestore.com/labor-standards/981-the-labor-code-with-comments-and-cases-volume-i-revised-edition.html

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