Family like branches on a tree… we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. The Civil Code of the Philippines defines Family as a basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects. Article II, Section 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution attested that the “State perceives the holiness of family life and might secure and fortify the family as an essential self-sufficient social establishment”. Family Welfare is a state of well-being of the family as a whole and the individuals that comprise the family. This state of well-being connotes a level of satisfaction of the needs of the family. The degree of satisfaction of these needs defines the extent of welfare enjoyed by the family.

The Family Welfare Program (FWP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) seeks to introduce the concept of promoting the welfare of workers and their families as a key to workplace productivity and improved worker-management relations. It is an advocacy program that draws corporate support in promoting workers’ quality of life by adopting a family centered approach in the workplace.

DOLE Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the idea of the FWP is that a worker is happy when his family is happy. When he is happy, he becomes productive. The program aims to Promote and protect welfare of workers and their families and for employers, companies and business establishments establish family welfare component in workplaces.

The legal framework of the FWP include Article 134 on family planning services; incentives for family planning of P.D. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines, As Amended) and its IRR; Department Order No. 56-03 (Rationalizing the Implementation of the FWP in DOLE) and DOLE Administrative Order No. 209, series of 2004 (Checklist of Priority Activities Related to FWP Implementation).

The program is compulsory to establishments employing more than 200 employees and voluntary on the part of the establishments employing less than 200 workers. Employers who employ more than 200 workers shall provide free family planning services to their employees and their spouses (Section 11, Rule XII Employment of Women and Minors).

Department Order No. 56-03, “Rationalizing the Implementation of Family Welfare Program (FWP)” mandates companies and business to implement workplace based programs that promote Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood; Education/Gender Equality; Spirituality or Value Formation; Income Generation/Livelihood/Cooperative; Medical Health Care; Nutrition; Environment Protection, hygiene and Sanitation; Sports and Leisure; Housing and Transportation. These programs are collectively called the FWP Ten dimensions which also serve as a guide.

The FWP aims to promote plant-level initiatives to contribute to the goals of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP); Instill family planning/family welfare consciousness among labor and management as a key in promoting workplace productivity and improved worker-management relations. Establish the family welfare component as a major issue of concern and action of the Family Welfare Committee.

Also, it is envisioned to improve the quality of life of Filipino workers and attempts to address life-work balance. This vision is achieved through a combined tripartite effort of the government sector, the workers, and the management in adopting a family-centered approach at the workplace.

The steps towards setting up a Family Welfare program at the workplace on the part of the management is to coordinate with the DOLE Regional Office having jurisdiction over the workplace for orientation of the FWP; organize the Family Welfare Committee from among the management, union/workers group and clinic personnel; determine the particular needs of employees; provide the necessary support, assistance and resources and enlist the ready assistance of concerned government and non-government agencies.

On the part of the DOLE, the Regional Office conducts an orientation on the FWP among the management representatives, labor representatives and plant clinic representatives; coordinate activities with the Regional Development Councils (RDC), Regional Population Coordinating Council (RPCC) and other appropriate agencies like the Department of Health (DOH), the National Nutrition Commission (NNC), related offices, committees or groups to create linkages regarding the 10 FWP dimensions; conducts need analysis using the Checklist of priority activities related to FWP and facilitate the creation of the FWC with its corresponding sub-committees.

The composition of a Family Welfare Committee in companies and establishments: 2 or 3 management representatives selected by the company’s top management ; 2 or 3 labor representatives involved in the education, training and welfare activities of the union ; Plant clinic representative (preferably doctor or head nurse) and Health and safety officer.

With a Family Welfare Program in the workplace, there will be a better quality of life of the workers’ family and thus contribute to reduced absenteeism and tardiness, as well as reduced job turnover; a better quality workforce with high productive capacity is an asset to the company. Moreover, the program may significantly improve industrial relations.

For more information on DOLE Family Welfare Program, visit us at www.dole.gov.ph and www.bwsc.dole.gov.ph

END/Patrick T. Rillorta