Labor and Employment in the Philippines
Before a foreigner decides to invest in the Philippines, it is essential for him to consider that the working conditions in the country are completely different and distinct from the working conditions in his own country.Thus, under the “general welfare clause” and the “social justice principle” of the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, the workers are given preferential advantage in the interpretation and construction of labor laws.
The Labor Code was enacted by Philippine legislators, on the basis of these two principles.
This, however, does not necessarily mean that Philippine labor law is strictly anti-employer. The Philippines is still one of the best countries in the region for foreigners to invest in as long as potential employers abide to its reasonable labor laws.
Advantages of a Philippine-based business
Among the advantages of setting up business in the Philippines are: 1. Competent English-speaking employees; 2. Availability of business districts which are conveniently located in strategic locations; 3. Business-friendly government which supports foreign investments 100%; 4. low-cost manpower. Once the foreign investor acquires a working knowledge of the material provisions of the Labor Code, an amicable and harmonious industrial relation will definitely be created between labor and management.
Conditions of employment
The regular office hours in the country is eight (8) hours, for five (5) days a week, exclusive of time for meals. Any additional hours of work shall be subject to additional compensation.Aside from national emergencies and prevention of loss of life or property, the worker may be required to work overtime to prevent loss of perishable goods, or to prevent the business from incurring serious losses.
A weekly rest day of at least twenty-four (24) consecutive hours is required for every six (6) consecutive normal work days.
Current minimum wage|
Minimum wage rates in the country vary depending on the region where the employee works. As of October 2009, the current daily minimum wage rate in Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) is P382.00 (the highest in the country).Employees working in the Bicol Region presently receive the lowest wage at the range of between P196.00 to P239.00 per day. Manila Visa also explains that payment by means of a promissory note, voucher, coupons, tokens, chits, or any other object other than the legal tender is expressly prohibited under the law.
Nightwork prohibition for women workers?
Another provision of the Labor Code which Manila Visa believes is worth mentioning to the potential foreign investor is the “Nightwork Prohibition” for women workers, under Art. 130 of the Labor Code.Under this provision, all women are prohibited from rendering their services as employees in any commercial or non-industrial undertaking (other than agricultural), between midnight and six o’clock in the morning of the following day.
The question therefore is, “how come women are allowed to work in call centers operating 24/7, without violating the Labor Code of the Philippines?” The answer lies in the exemptions provided by the same law.
Under the said provision, the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is authorized to issue an exemption upon receiving a “request for exemption” from the employer of the female employee.
Thus, the company of the female worker employed as a call center agent may request the DOLE to exempt the worker from coverage from such a prohibition.
A mere letter requesting for the exemption is sufficient, and the DOLE Secretary normally grants the request provided that the employer company conforms withcertain laborprovision providing for “facilities for women.”
Facilities for women
Before the said exemption may be granted by the DOLE Secretary, he must be sure that the company:
a) Provides seats proper for women and permit them to use such seats when they are free from work and during working hours, provided they can perform their duties in this position without detriment to efficiency;
(b) Establishes separate toilet rooms and lavatories for men and women and provide at least a dressing room for women;
(c) Establishes a nursery in a workplace for the benefit of the women employees therein; and
(d) Determines appropriate minimum age and other standards for retirement or termination in special occupations such as those of flight attendants and the like.