Employer's duty to give free medical, dental to workers

Under Article 163 of Book IV of the Labor Code of the Philippines, the rule one emergency medical and dental services states that it shall be the duty of every employer to furnish his employees in any locality with free medical and dental attendance and facilities consisting of:

(a) The services of a full-time registered nurse when the number of employees exceeds fifty (50) but not more than two hundred (200) except when the employer does not maintain hazardous workplaces, in which case the services of a graduate first-aider shall be provided for the protection of the workers, where no registered nurse is available. The Secretary of Labor shall provide by appropriate regulations the services that shall be required where the number of employees does not exceed fifty (50) and shall determine by appropriate order hazardous workplaces for purposes of Article 163;

(b) The services of a full-time registered nurse, a part-time physician and dentist, and an emergency clinic, when the number of employees exceeds two hundred (200) but not more than three hundred (300); and

(c) The services of a full-time physician, dentist and full-time registered nurse as well as a dental clinic, and an infirmary or emergency hospital with one bed capacity for every one hundred (100) employees when the number of employees exceeds three hundred (300).

In cases of hazardous workplaces, no employer shall engage the services of a physician or dentist who cannot stay in the premises of the establishment for at least two (2) hours, in the case of those engaged on part-time basis, and not less than eight (8) hours in the case of those employed on full-time basis. Where the undertaking is nonhazardous in nature, the physician and dentist may be engaged on retained basis, subject to such regulations as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe to insure immediate availability of medical and dental treatment and attendance in case of emergency.
The term "full-time physician" does not mean that medical practitioners so engaged be actually hired as employees. The term "full-time" in Article 163 cannot be construed as referring to the type of employment of the person engaged to provide the services.

The phrase "services of a full-time registered nurse" should thus be taken to refer to the kind of services that the nurse will render in the company's premises and to its employees, not the manner of his engagement.

Article 163 clearly allows employers in non-hazardous establishments to engage "on retained basis" the services of a dentist or physician. Nowhere does the law provide that the physician or dentist so engaged thereby becomes a regular employee. The phrase "on retained basis" negates the idea that this engagement necessarily gives rise to an employer-employee relationship. (G.R. NO. 157214, cited in Page 434 of Azucena, 2013)