Mostly positive, feedback on new LLCS indicate business establishments are willing to comply with labor laws
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday expressed optimism about the DOLE’s new Labor Law Compliance System, saying the feedback and response that the DOLE is getting on the system, as reported by the new breed of labor laws compliance officers (LLCOs) from the field indicate that generally, private business establishment owners are willing to comply with the country’s labor laws.
“I think knowledge and awareness are crucial to foster among establishments a culture of voluntary compliance. Establishments are more than willing to comply if they are aware of the laws, understand the whole process of compliance, and know that the DOLE is there to assist them how to comply,” said Baldoz at a bull session of Mindanao-based LLCOs held in Cagayan de Oro City over the weekend, after the one-day multi-industry compliance on labor laws assessment conducted by the DOLE Regional Office No. 10.
Undersecretary Rebecca Chato, head of the DOLE’s internal and labor relations cluster organized the bull session, an occasion for the LLCO’s to narrate and share their experiences and best practices in implementing the new LLCS.
“I have been with the DOLE for 27 years, but this is the first time I boarded a ship to conduct a joint assessment. It was the first time I climbed a monkey ladder, and the seafarers on board had the surprise of their lives to see an employee of the DOLE ask questions if they are getting paid the right amount of wages at the right time,” said Marina Ereno, an LLCO of Region 10.
“I suffered from sea-sickness during the visit to the ship, but that is alright. It’s our work,” she said.
Ereno, together with fellow LLCOs Evelyn Gallego and Felixberto Labor, had conducted a joint assessment of one of the ships of Granexport docked at the Cagayan de Oro Port.
“The captain of the ship was very cooperative when we explained to him and his crew the purpose of our visit. When we found out during the joint assessment that the company has not been providing the five-day service incentive leave for the past three years, he instituted the correction immediately, right there and then,” Gallego volunteered.
Dean Macalaguing, a newly-appointed LLCO from the region, said he was challenged the first time he conducted a joint assessment of a land-based establishment, the owner of whom kept asking questions about the DOLE’s ‘toolbox’ of services.
“When I explained to him that the new LLCS offers a ‘toolbox’ of services to enable establishments comply, he kept badgering me what’s in the ‘toolbox’, and so I explained. A few days after my visit, he called me requesting that I conduct a productivity improvement orientation for his employees. It’s heartening to receive such request,” Macalaguing said.
But not all the experiences of LLCOs in carrying out the LLCS are joyful stories. LLCO Labor shared that he had visited an establishment whose owner was a retired military officer who seemed to be averse to any “government official” visiting his business.
“When I came, I didn’t know a BIR personnel had visited him ahead of me, and who called his attention to some violation of BIR rules and regulations. He told me he could shoot me because he owned guns. So I left,” Labor narrated.
But he came back. Before he did that, however, he asked the neighbors what was the best time the establishment could be visited and was told it should be in the morning, preferably when the establishment had its first customers.
“When I arrived and again introduced myself, I asked if I could see his gun. It turned out he had the habit of showing off his guns and he showed me a Cal. 45 automatic revolver. I expressed admiration of his gun, and he warmed up to me. That’s when I proceeded to conduct my work and he became accommodating,” Labor explained.
In Bukidnon where he conducted a visit of an establishment another time, Labor said that the owner unleashed his Doberman dogs to scare him off and his fellow LLCO.
“I told my team mate to stay still and not be afraid. Then we talked to the owner, explaining his visit. After our explanation, he agreed to a joint assessment. Later, he remarked that DOLE personnel are a friendly bunch,” Labor said.
Baldoz said the combined regulatory and developmental approaches called for in the new LLCS could spell its success, and called on the LLCOs to document their stories and experiences to enable the DOLE to draw lessons from its implementation.
“From what you are sharing,” she said, “I can see that we should be very patient in explaining how the system works and how it will benefit the workers. Remember, we are changing a culture here, a culture where previously we were regarded as ‘police’ enforcers to a culture where we are assisting establishments by teaching them how to voluntarily comply with all applicable labor laws,” she said.
“The LLCS is a system whose time has come,” she added, promising the LLCOs that the DOLE leadership supports them and is looking for other ways to ensure the LLCS is met with success.
Baldoz also encouraged the LLCOs to continue working together, as she noted that the LLCOs have been visiting establishments to conduct joint assessment in teams of two or more.
“Teamwork in everything we do is stronger than individual effort,” she said.