New Employment and Labor Laws Passed or Pending This Year
Undoubtedly a key aspect to the economy, workers deserve to have legislation made for their best interest, and the following are new laws that have been passed or pending in the first half of 2019
With what could be considered by some as a contentious 2019 Midterm Election in the rearview mirror, laws proposed in Congress and in the Senate begin to take root. Not surprisingly, a number of these bills are geared towards labor and employment, as a number of challenges continue to plague various industries in the Philippines, and loopholes in existing laws coupled with ineffective implementation continue to magnify those challenges.
Some of these bills have been signed into law, while others are on the cusp of being enacted, and are only awaiting the President to sign them into laws. With that, the workplace and job market will experience some changes in the immediate future. Thus, it is important for employers to be mindful of how this affects their operations and overall business as early as now, to be prepared to adjust accordingly and to effectively continue being legally compliant.
Expanded Maternity Leave Act
Signed into law last February 22, 2019, Republic Act No. 11210, or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, is a law which grants mothers over three months of paid leave.
On Labor Day 2019, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) formally launched the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of R.A. 11210, effectively increasing maternity leave from the former 60 days (for normal delivery) or 78 days (for caesarean delivery) to 105 days, regardless of method of delivery. In case of miscarriage or emergency termination, 60 days paid leave is granted by the new law.
Authored and principally sponsored by Senator Risa Honteveros, as well as authored by Senators Manny Pangilinan, Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Trillanes IV, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, and Edgardo Angara, R.A. 11210 also provides that maternity leave can be extended by 30 days without pay, as well as grants solo mothers an additional 15 days leave.
A bill seeking to amend the existing Labor Code and prohibit the practice of labor-only contracting, popularly known as “endo,” or the Filipino-coined term for “end of contract”, Senate Bill 1826, or the Security of Tenure Bill was approved on third and final reading at the Philippines Senate last May 22, 2019.
Under the bill, workers are classified under four employment types: regular, probationary, project, and seasonal. It also categorizes project and seasonal workers as having the same rights as regular employees, which include the payment of minimum wage and social protection benefits for the duration of their employment.
While Congress earlier approved House Bill 6908, its own version of the Endo Bill, in January of 2018, it had unanimously voted to amend this with the Security of Tenure Bill authored and principally sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva. As a result, the senate bill is now merely awaiting the signature (or veto) of the President.
Officially known as the Telecommuting Act, R.A. 11165 was officially signed into law last January 10, 2019. The purpose of the still-new law is to “uphold work-life balance among Filipino employees and to address the traffic congestion.”
This “work-from-home” law aims to provide certain workers an optional employment set-up, which is dependent on employers and employees reaching an agreement on the work-from-home terms. The law also dictates that despite the flexible set-up, employers are still required to follow minimum labor standards on health, safety, schedule, workload, work hours, and social security as if the employees are working in-office.
On March 26th, the IRR of R.A. 11165 was completed and signed by DOLE. Among its provisions is that companies who will adopt the telecommuting work arrangement must notify DOLE’s nearest field or provincial office.
Shortened or Compressed Work Week
Another legislation aimed at easing the daily commute of the working Filipino is Senate Bill No. 1571. Otherwise known as the Alternative Working Arrangement bill, it lets employers and employees agree to adopt flexible working arrangements, including a workweek of still the required 40 hours, but spread over four days instead of the typically prescribed five.
It is intended to help ease the worsening traffic situation in the Philippines’ major cities, like that of Metro Manila which, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, cost the country some P3.5 billion in lost opportunities a day in 2018. When implemented, the law may prove a win-win for both employers and employees.
Following its approval in the senate, the bill is expected to be discussed in the congressional bicameral committee along with its counterpart bill from the House of Representatives, which then will need ratification in Congress before being signed into law by the President.
First-time Jobseekers Assistance Act
Like its title suggests, R.A.11261 is a law geared towards professionals entering the workforce for the first time. The law specifically prohibits national and local government entities from collecting fees from first-time job seekers when they apply for the government documents required in both local employment and in working abroad.
Signed into law last April 10, R.A. 11261 covers documentary requirements issued by the government and are required by employers from job applicants, such as police clearance certificate, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, barangay clearance, and even marriage and birth certificates. Medical certificates from public hospitals are also included, although fees and charges for laboratory tests and other medical procedures are not.
Government fees for applications to take professional licensure examinations conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission and fees for applications for Philippine passport authentication and applications Career Service Examination are also not covered by R.A. 1126.
100% Service Charge Bill
Geared towards rank-and-file workers in the hotel and restaurant industry, SB 1299 specifically proposes that “restaurant and hotel workers, whether regular, contractual, or agency-hired, be entitled to a 100% service charge as long as they would directly deliver the service to their customers.
Existing laws currently has service charges divided at 85-15, with the rank-and-file workers receiving 85% of the revenue, and the businesses receiving the remaining 15%. However, research made by the Senate, as well as feedback made by employees, indicate that this division has hardly been followed in its four decades of implementation.
On May 28, the Senate ratified the bill. Once also ratified in the House of Representatives, who’s version of the bill has employees being paid 90% of service charges, it will be sent to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
These are but a few of new employment and labor bills that will eventually be enacted into law. To know more and keep up to date with what’s new in terms of labor legislation, information can be found at the Philippine Congress and Senate’s official websites, as well as the Philippine News Agency.
While extensive efforts are taken to ensure that our articles are as factual and as well-researched as possible, please keep in mind that this is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute actual legal advice.
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