The compliance rate for labor law is at 70% only. This is based on a 2014-2015 study by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). It was conducted on 76,767 establishments which covered 4.56 million workers.

Give the relatively low turn-out rate, the DOLE has pushed for the implementation of the Labor Law Compliance System (LLCS).

The LLCS is primarily governed by DOLE D.O. 131-13, Series of 2013, the Manual on Labor Laws Compliance System and Procedures for Uniform Implementation (DOLE Department Order No.131, Series of 2013, as Amended), Labor Code, and related social legislations.

Purpose

The LLCS was designed and formulated to operationalize and implement the constitutional mandate “to protect the interests and welfare of the employees towards the promotion of social justice and maintenance of industrial peace through the encouragement of voluntary compliance and enforcement of labor laws.”[1]

 

The 1987 Constitution expressly provides for full protection to labor grounded on social justice.[2] The principle of social justice is encapsulated in the maxim: Those who have less in life should have more in law.[3] The promotion of this principle is mainly due to the fact that the employer has an economic advantage over the employee. It is, thus, the law that provides for ways and means to protect the employees against any unfair, oppressive, and unlawful practices by an employer.

However, social justice is not one-sided.[4]

The law takes into consideration the rights of the employers. Thus, the 1987 Constitution likewise mandates the promotion of industrial peace in establishments. This may come in the form of voluntary modes of settling work-related disputes, as well as voluntary compliance and enforcement of labor laws in the workplace.[5]

It is in the voluntary compliance that the LLCs is built on.

Policy

In the conduct of the Assessment/Visit/Investigation, the Labor Law Compliance Officer (LLCO) shall implement the Labor Law Compliance System “in all establishments, branches, and workplaces and worksites” with due consideration of the priority establishments that have been identified by the DOLE.[6]

Consequently, all establishments are covered by the LLCS regardless of the nature of the business and size of the workforce. However, the rules provide for priority establishments which shall first be assessed, visited, or investigated. These priority establishments poses high risk of non-compliance with labor laws due to the nature of their business.

Scope

When an assessment is made, the LLCO determines compliance of an establishment with all applicable labor laws, including the General Labor Standard (GLS), Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS), and other related social legislations and DOLE issuances.[7]

Thus, it may be said that an assessment covers everything about labor laws applicable in an enterprise. This may include checking on wages, monetary benefits, working conditions, hours of work, and other non-monetary benefits. The inspection may likewise extend to verification of compliance with standards for occupational safety and health, such as work premises conditions, required personal protective equipment (PPE), health programs, and other related laws.[8]

Modes of Implementation

The following are the three (3) modes of implementing the LLCS:

1. Joint Assessment or “Assessment”;

2. Compliance Visit or “Visit”;

3. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Investigation or “Investigation”; and

4. Verification Assessment or “Verification”.

If there is compliance in an establishment of labor laws, it is given a Certificate of Compliance (COC). If there is non-compliance, the establishment is given an opportunity to rectify it either through a 10-day correction period (monetary benefits) or the remediation period (non-monetary benefit).

Joint Assessment (Assessment)

The Joint Assessment or Assessment refers to “scheduled assessment of establishments, branches, and workplaces and worksites to evaluate compliance with labor laws and social legislations.”[9]

Unlike the other two modes, the Assessment is a tripartite approach involving the employer/representatives, the employees/representatives, and the LLCO. These three parties jointly undertake to assess the establishment for labor law compliance using a prescribed assessment checklist.

While not expressly provided in DOLE D.O. 131-13, Series of 2013, the Manual states that an Assessment likewise covers “establishment that had undergone settlement under the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) procedure and Accident Investigation.”[10] It is submitted that this may have been an oversight.

The key differentiating feature of an Assessment is that it is management-initiated. It is the employer itself who requested assistance from DOLE to assess the establishment for labor law compliance.

Establishments that have undergone settlement under SEnA and/or through an Accident Investigation does not necessarily indicate that the employer wanted to have its establishment undergo Assessment. More so with SEnA as this is one of the ways to initiate a Compliance Visit as will be discussed hereunder.

Compliance Visit (Visit)

A Compliance Visit or Visit refers to “the act of validating compliance of establishments with labor laws and social legislations by the LLCO” based on either of the following:

1. SEnA Referral pursuant to Section 7 of DOLE D.O. No. 107, Series of 2010; and

2. Labor Complaint filed against the establishment and a Visit has been directed by the Regional Director. [11]

Occupational Safety and Health Standards Investigation (Investigation)

An Occupational Safety and Health Standards Investigation or Investigation is “the process of determining the existence of imminent danger, dangerous occurrence and/or accident resulting to disabling injury or analogous circumstances within the workplace based on a report or information received by the DOLE-ROs from concerned citizen or through media, telephone call, electronic mail or any other source.”[12]

Of the three modes, this presents the least restriction on the LLCO to go and investigate an establishment as this can be triggered by a simple “report or information” regardless of source. Consequently, a simple SMS or post on social media may be the basis for conducting an investigation.

Notwithstanding how it was initiated, an Investigation is required to be conducted “based on any condition or practice in any place of employment where specific danger could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm, but the imminence of such danger can be eliminated through enforcement procedures.”[13]

Imminent Danger refers to “a condition or practice in any workplace that can be reasonably expected to cause death or serious physical harm.”[14]

Disabling Injury refers to “a work injury which results to death, permanent total disability, permanent partial disability or temporary total disability.”[15]

Plain View Violation refers to “observable and apparent OSHS violation.”[16]

Verification Assessment (Verification)

Verification Assessment or Verification is a follow-up assessment conducted in the following cases:

1. To validate compliance after ten (10) days period of correction and/or the agreed OSH remediation period which should not be more than three (3) months;

2. To validate abatement of the imminent danger after the seventy-two (72) hours mandatory conference; and

3. Other analogous circumstance that requires validation from the LLCO to ensure compliance with labor standards and occupational safety and health standards.[17]

Incentivizing the Compliance Program

Establishments that have successfully maintained their COC in good standing for at least four (4) consecutive years automatically qualify for publication as nominee to the Tripartite Certificate of Compliance with Labor Standards (TCCLS).[18]

By way of incentives, the following shall be observed to encourage more establishment to undergo a voluntary certification process on labor law compliance:

1. Establishments with TCCLS are automatically deemed to have COCs and shall no longer be subjected to assessments;

2. Establishments with COC may acquire TCCLS upon validation by the DOLE-ROs of its good standing status within four (4) consecutive years and upon concurrence by the Regional Tripartite Certification Committee;[19]

3. All establishments with TCCLs, either directly bestowed through tripartite certification process or acquired through COC of good standing for four (4) years, may qualify for the Secretary’s Award.[20]

References:

[1] Manual on Labor Laws Compliance System and Procedures for Uniform Implementation (DOLE Department Order No.131, Series of 2013, as Amended), Department of Labor and Employment, Manila, Philippines, 29 August 2014.

[2] 1987 CONSTITUTION. Paragraph 3, Section 3, Article XIII.

[3] Felix B. Perez, et al., v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company, et al., G.R. No. 152048, 07 April 2009, Separate and Dissenting Opinion of Justice Velasco, Jr.

[4] C. Alcantara & Sons, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. Nos. 155109, 155135, and 179220, 29 September 2010).

[5] Id at 2.

[6] Id at 1.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] DOLE D.O. No. 115-11, Series of 2011, in relation to Section 2, Rule VII, DOLE D.O. No. 131, Series of 2013.

[19] See Section 2, Rule VII of DOLE D.O. No. 131, Series of 2013.

[20] Id at 1.