Labor justice in the Philippines is embedded both in Presidential Decree No. 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines and the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution stipulated the role of the State in protecting the workers with their fundamental rights at work. Meanwhile, Article 128 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended, underscores the visitorial and enforcement power of the Secretary of Labor and Employment and his/her duly authorized representative. Moreover, Article 129 of the said Code of the Philippines provided the Secretary of Labor and Employment or his/her duly authorized hearing officer with the power to hear and decide any matter involving the recovery of wages and other monetary claims.
These law provisions outline the role of the country’s labor inspectorate system. Over the years, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) labor inspection system has undergone reforms to achieve higher compliance with labor laws and standards and ensure continuity and sustainability of compliance at workplaces (DOLE, n.d.). Given this circumstance, compliance is not a one-and-done program. Regulatory policy ensures that regulation works effectively and is in the public interest. With the Department’s inspection policy that shifted from one approach to another and underwent significant reforms over the years, it is important to understand the impact of these regulatory changes and assess whether these reforms have resulted in achieving policy objectives. Hence, this study was conducted to document and analyze the policy shift and draw policy options from the experiences of DOLE’s labor inspectors. The study utilized a descriptive research design, a combination of a.) a desk review of Inspection-related DOLE issuances, b.) consultation and interviews with stakeholders, and c.) analysis of labor inspection data. The study results show that a mixture of regulatory and developmental approaches to inspection has proven to ensure compliance amongst different industries. The regulatory approach was proven effective in large establishments, while the developmental approach provided an enabling environment for MSMEs to adopt the requirements of DOLE’s inspection system. Meanwhile, recommendations to further improve the inspection program include advocating for the ratification of the Labor Inspection Convention (ILO C. 81), strengthening partnerships by tapping tripartite bodies and Local Government Units (LGUs) to reinforce further the promotion of compliance with labor laws, and voluntary identification, as well as declaration of work dangers/risks, and to review the current structure of labor inspectorate system of DOLE.
Keywords: labor inspection, General Labor Standards, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, decent work, labor laws compliance
RESEARCHERS: Franchesca Rose S. Castillo | Miraluna S. Tacadao | Joan N. Comillo