Philippines to revise labor code to protect workers

Department of Labor and Employment (Philippines)

MANILA, Philippines—Amendment of the 36-year-old Labor Code of the Philippines to better protect the Filipino workers is one of the priorities of the Aquino administration, the Department of Labor and Employment said.

Revision of the “outdated” labor law will address the issues of minimum wage, tenure, health and social security benefits and low-cost housing benefits, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement Sunday.

“The amendment of the Labor Code is on the agenda of the President [Benigno Aquino]. What is only being discussed is whether this will be done through commission or through the regular passage of law,” Baldoz said during the Pilipinas Natin forum by the Cabinet’s Human Development Cluster.

“It is possible that through an executive order [Aquino] will create a commission, just like in the family code… and then the existing tripartite industrial peace council will be tapped for members of the commission,” she said.

Baldoz said it is high time the Labor Code is revised to respond to the needs of the current labor market trends.

“The Labor Code [was enacted in the] 1970s. The labor market realities now brought by globalization, this is not covered by labor code before,” she said.

The proposed labor laws amendment is part of DOLE’s  Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016.

Articles identified for revision are the sections on tenure, contracting and subcontracting of services.

Under the labor subcontracting system, a company hires another firm to recruit casual workers, who are not paid the minimum wage or not entitled to benefits like social-security coverage, health insurance, and access to low-cost housing services.

Labor groups have long been pushing for the amendment of the outdated Labor Code.

Baldoz said reforms being initiated by the labor department have the support of the tripartite sector, which she said is involved in the formulation of the labor and employment sectoral plan.

The Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016 is drafted following an order by President Aquino for government agencies to come up with a sectoral plan that supports the Philippine Development Plan in the next five years.

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