For many years,job-seekers and workers who have no formal knowledge or education about their rights have been manipulated and coerced by unscrupulous employers into entering employment arrangements and contracts which are patently illegal and unsympathetic.
Now, future workers and job seekers will be able to determine any attempt to circumvent labor laws and workers’ rights by these undesirable employers.
Last May 27, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11551, also known as the Labor Education Act.
This new law will provide protection for workers through education and recognizes the need for the state to put in place a mechanism to educate future workers, employers, and entrepreneurs on their rights and responsibilities in promoting harmony in the workplace and social progress in society. Labor education will focus on basic knowledge on labor rights, skills for negotiation and for fostering interpersonal relations in the workplace, and mechanisms for redress of grievances.
The law provides that all public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) shall include labor education as part of an elective course. It also encourages HEIs to hold a labor empowerment and career guidance conference for graduating students.
Technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) offering non-degree and diploma courses of up to three years shall also integrate labor education as an elective course while TVIs offering short-term courses are encouraged to integrate labor education in the modular program of technical and vocational education curriculum.
The implementing rules and guidelines will be developed by the Commission on Higher Education, while the modules of instruction and other relevant materials shall be developed by the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
To ensure the safety and health of all workers, DOLE-CAR Director Nathaniel Lacambra is reminding employers to recognize the basic rights of workers.
These rights are:
Equal work opportunities for all. The State shall protect labor, promote full employment, provide equal work opportunity regardless of gender, race, or creed; and regulate relations between employees and employers;
Security of tenure. No employee can be dismissed from work except for a just or authorized cause, and only after due process. Just cause refers to any wrongdoing committed by an employee; authorized cause refers to economic circumstances that are not the employee’s fault;
An employee must be paid their wages for all hours worked. If their work hours fall between 10p.m. and 6 a.m., they are entitled to night shift pay in addition to their pay for regular work hours. If they work over eight hours a day, they are entitled to overtime pay;
Weekly rest day. A day-off of 24 consecutive hours after six days of work should be scheduled by the employer upon consultation with the workers;
Wage and wage-related benefits. Wage is the amount paid to an employee in exchange for the service that they rendered to their employer. Wage may be fixed for a given period.
Payment of wages. Wages should be paid directly to the employee in cash, legal tender, or through a bank.Wages shall be given not less than once every two weeks or twice within a month at intervals not exceeding 16 days;
For female employees,they may not engage in night work unless the work is allowed by the following rules: industrial undertakings from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., commercial/non-industrial undertakings from midnight to 6 a.m., or agricultural takings at night provided that she has had nine consecutive hours of rest. Workers are also entitled to welfare facilities, such as separate dressing rooms and lavatories, at the workplace;
Employment of children. The minimum employment age is 15 years of age. Any worker below 15 years of age should be under the sole responsibility of parents or guardians provided that work does not interfere with the child’s schooling or development. The minimum age of employment is 18 years old for hazardous jobs, and 15 years old for non-hazardous jobs.
Employers must provide workers with every kind of on-the-job protection against injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful working conditions;
In addition, the Employees’ Compensation Program is the tax-exempt compensation program for employees and their dependents. The benefits include medical benefits for sickness/injuries, disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits, death and funeral benefits and pension benefits.
END/Patrick T Rillorta