Labor policy in the Philippines

The Labor policy in the Philippines is specified mainly by the country’s Labor Code (the Code) of the Philippines and through other labor laws. They cover 38 million Filipinos who belong to the labor force and to some extent, as well as overseas workers. They aim to address Filipino workers’ legal rights and their limitations with regard to the hiring process, working conditions, benefits, policy-making on labor within the company, activities, and relations with employees.

Presidential Decree (PD) 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines (the Code) declares the following policy: "The State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed and regulate the relations between workers and employers. The State shall assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work."

The Code and other legislated labor laws are implemented primarily by government agencies, namely, Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency. Non-government entities, such as the trade unions and employers, also play a role in the country’s labor.

Also according to the Code, pursuant to national development objectives and in order to harness and maximize the use of private sector resources and initiative in the development and implementation of a comprehensive employment program, the private employment sector shall participate in the recruitment and placement of workers, locally and overseas, under such guidelines, rules and regulations as may be issued by the Secretary of Labor. (Article 25)

The Code. The Code governs employment practices and labor relations in the Philippines. It also identifies the rules and standards regarding employment such as pre-employment policies, labor conditions, wage rate, work hours, employee benefits, termination of employees, and so on. Under the regime of the President [Ferdinand Marcos], it was promulgated in May 1. 1974 and took effect November 1, 1974, six months after its promulgation.

Possibly the most powerful and useful provision is Article 4 on the liberal construction in favor of labor. It says: ""All doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of this Code, including its implementing rules and regulations, shall be resolved in favor of labor."

The Government. The Philippine government greatly affects the labor market through its policies and interventions. It plays a role in job creation through generating a formidable environment for investment; in ensuring the workers’ welfare through policies like the Labor Code; in improving the education of the labor; in informing regarding the jobs available to match the skills of the people; in implementing expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to reduce unemployment rate. Though, there must be care in using fiscal and monetary policies because it may result in high inflation rate in the long-run.[11] Below are some government agencies concerned with the labor market.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Founded on December 8, 1933, DOLE is the government agency overseeing the labor market of the Philippines. It is tasked to implement the Code and other labor and employment-related policies of the government. They have different programs for job generation, skills training for workers, job fairs and placements, for overseas workers, and others that helps enhance the labor market of the Philippines.

Article 5: "The Department of Labor and other government agencies charged with the administration and enforcement of this Code or any of its parts shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations shall become effective fifteen (15) days after announcement of their adoption in newspapers of general circulation."
Labor unions. Trade or Labor unions in the Philippines are organizations sanctioned by the Code as an acknowledgment of Filipino workers' freedom to self-organize. Trade unions aim to promote enlightenment among Filipino workers concerning their wages, hour of work, and other legal rights. They aim to raise awareness on their obligations as union members and employees, as well. Moreover, they serve as legitimate entities that negotiate with employers in policy-making with regard to terms and conditions of employment. These negotiations formally take place in the process of Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Trade unions are granted with a right to go on a strike, a temporary stoppage of work by the employees when there is a labor dispute. Labor disputes are defined as situation when there are controversies surrounding negotiations and arranging of the terms and condition of employment. The union, however, must file a notice of strike or the employer must file a notice of lockout to the Department of Labor and Employment. But when a strike or lockout is deemed to compromise national interests or interests of the Filipino public (for instance, the case of health workers), the Secretary of Labor and Employment has the authority to prohibit it and deliberately enforce resumption of regular operations.

The State through the Code encourages a truly democratic method of regulating the relations between the employers and employees by means of agreements freely entered into through collective bargaining, no court or administrative agency or official shall have the power to set or fix wages, rates of pay, hours of work or other terms and conditions of employment. (Section 3, Republic Act No. 6715)

In the Philippines, TUCP (Trade Union Congress of the Philippines) is the largest union and confederation of 30 labor federations in the country which come from a wide range of sectors. As of 2009, there are a total of 34,320 unions with consist of members summing up to 2.6 million.

The BLR. The Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) and the Labor Relations Divisions in the regional offices of the Department of Labor, shall have original and exclusive authority to act, at their own initiative or upon request of either or both parties, on all inter-union and intra-union conflicts, and all disputes, grievances or problems arising from or affecting labor-management relations in all workplaces, whether agricultural or non-agricultural, except those arising from the implementation or interpretation of collective bargaining agreements which shall be the subject of grievance procedure and/or voluntary arbitration. (Book V of the Code)

The discussion above is based on an outline by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. SOURCE: Wikipedia. "Labor policy in the Philippines." Retrieved June 4, 2019.