The birth of the Labor Laws Compliance System traces its incipient stage in 2009 when the International Labor Organization (ILO) conducted an audit of the country’s labor inspection system.
“One of the major findings of the 2009 ILO audit was that the existing system has no major impact in securing higher level of compliance with labor standards. And it was the labor unions who felt this way,” Baldoz yesterday narrated at a press conference at the DOLE in Intramuros.
With only 193 labor inspectors to inspect 784,000 companies, an establishment gets inspected only once every 16 years, the ILO audit bared. Further, there was no existing master list and history of companies inspected.
This, and other weaknesses of the labor inspection system led the DOLE, with newly-appointed Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, wringing their hands to address the problem.
President Benigno S. Aquino III came to the rescue. On his Labor Day message on 1 May 2012, he announced that he was giving the DOLE 372 new plantilla positions to ensure that labor laws are strictly enforced and to ensure the protection of workers.
“This is even more than the 400 labor inspectors the ILO, in its 2009 audit of the labor inspection system, recommended within two years. With the 372, the total DOLE inspectorate force stood at 574,” Baldoz said.
In February 2013, recruitment for the new plantilla positions commenced.
“A few months later, in August, the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) was born. When we recruited officers for the 372 positions the President gave us, we specifically called them Labor Laws Compliance Officers (LLCOs) to stress the developmental approach of the new system,” Baldoz recalled.
Prior to the implementation of the LLCS, the Labor Standards Enforcement Framework (LSEF) was the primary policy to safeguard workers’ rights through enforcement of labor laws among all establishments and workplaces.
Heavy on enforcement, compliance under the LSEF was purely regulatory; with establishments given only 10 days to comply. Enforcement was mostly centered on General Labor Standards (GLS) through modalities such as inspection, self-assessment, and technical advisory visit.
The LLCS, on the other hand, shifted the compliance system from regulatory to developmental. From the original four pages, the assessment checklist was expanded to eight covering General Labor Standards (GLS), Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS), and other allied laws enforcing 92 laws, policies, and advisories.
The new LLCS stresses the importance of voluntary labor laws compliance. “Voluntary compliance fosters harmonious workplace relations and is generally good for business. It leads to productivity and profitability,” Secretary Baldoz explained.
“Our message is, ‘The DOLE is here to help you comply. All our technical assistance services are free. You should not anymore fear the DOLE because our new labor law compliance system is designed as a mix of developmental and regulatory approaches that encourages voluntary compliance,” she added.
The LLCS was anchored on item number three of the 22-point labor and employment agenda of President Aquino III which aims for the promotion not only of the constitutionally protected rights of workers, but also their right to participate in the policy-making process.
It was also moored on the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan, 2011-2016, which was conceived to address the lack of protection of workers through labor standards, and the limitations in the enjoyment of fundamental rights, particularly in respect of freedom of association and collective bargaining.
In September 2013, the development of Labor Laws Compliance System-Management Information System (LLCS-MIS), an on-line web-based application system, started.
To carry out the LLCS, Secretary Baldoz approved specific, tripartite-endorsed DOLE issuances, including the following:
(1) Department Order No. 131-13, or the Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System;
(2) Department Order No. 129-13, or the Rules and Regulations Governing the Employment and Working Conditions of Seafarers Onboard Ships Engaged in Domestic Shipping;
(3) Department Order No.130-13, or the Rules and Regulations on the Employment of Filipino Seafarers Onboard Philippine Registered Ships engaged in International Voyage;
(4) Department Order No. 132-13, or the Guidelines on Maritime Occupational Safety and Health;
(5) General Authority for LLCOs in 2014;
(6) Department Order No. 131-A, series of 2014 or the Guidelines in the Conduct of Special Assessment and Visit of Establishments (SAVE);
(7) Administrative Order No. 404-14, or the Guide for Effective and Efficient Compliance Assessment Under the LLCS; and
(8) Administrative Order No. 616-14, or the Criteria and Mechanics for the Secretary’s Award or the 2nd Level Award under the Incentivizing Compliance Program (ICP); and the Manual of Procedures (August 2014).
The LLCS is implemented through the following modalities: Joint Assessment (JA), Compliance Visit (CV), and Occupational Safety and Health Standards Investigation (OI).
The Joint Assessment is a process of evaluating compliance with labor laws jointly undertaken by the LLCO and representatives from employers and employees. It covers all private establishments, including their branches and workplaces.
Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 404, series of 2014, or the Guide for Effective and Efficient Compliance Assessment under the LLCS, the following assessment modalities can be resorted to by the DOLE-Regional Offices- zonal assessment, in-house OSH assessment, assessment by industry, ecozone-wide assessment on voluntary compliance, assessment of establishments with Labor-Management Council or Committee (LMC) Convergence Program, equivalency of Incentivizing Compliance Program’s (ICPs) Certificate and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), and equivalency of ISO Certified Establishments.
Another modality is through Department Order No. 131-A, series of 2014 or the Special Assessment or Visit of Establishment (SAVE).
Compliance Visit, on the other hand, is done upon receipt of Single Entry Approach (SEnA) referral or when a complaint is filed against an establishment with Certificate of Compliance (COC). Assessment is done through D.O. No. 131-A, series of 2014, or the Special Assessment or Visit of Establishment (SAVE).
The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Investigation, is the process of determining the existence of imminent danger, dangerous occurrence, or accidents resulting to disabling injury, and OSH violations committed in plain view within the workplace.
The assessment strategy is done through the creation of a team composed of representatives from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) and Regional Offices (ROs) to render necessary assistance.
Under the new LLCS, establishments found to be compliant are given either the Certificate of Compliance (COC), Tripartite Certificate of Compliance with Labor Standards (TCCLS), Secretary’s Award, or the Tripartite Seal of Excellence.
Incentives enjoyed by compliant establishments are the Marker of Recognition, Privilege Card, Priority Status for Technical Assistance and Training, Exemption from Joint Assessment for two years, and Promotion of Products and Services.
Through the LLCS, 100 percent of the initial target establishments of 76,880 were covered and 100 percent of establishments with deficiencies were provided with appropriate assistance leading to compliance.