10-day paid leave: Mutually advantageous
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - September 3, 2018 - 12:00am

Employment-wise, we live in an era wherein the militant labor groups have the propensity to stir controversies and push for unreasonable demands. Of course, that’s their business. A business model that purports to fight for their members’ rights, then, collects a fee (from labor union members) for it.

So that, a few months ago, a labor group called on President Rodrigo Duterte “to certify as urgent House Bill 7787 pushed by the members of the Makabayan bloc seeking to abolish the regional wage boards and fix the national minimum wage at ?750 for all workers.”

It also called on “all labor groups to close ranks and form a stronger alliance to push for the demand to raise wages and to abolish the regional wage boards by amending RA 6727 known as the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989.”

Demand for exorbitant wage increase may sound absurd but it sells well to the labor unions’ members. Most of us, however, are in agreement that their demands have always been clothed with so much hyperboles. They usually do these to stay relevant to their union dues-paying members.

So that, time and again, we’ve emphasized that we must take a look at wages in an all-encompassing perspective. We all know that in more professionally managed companies, it is viewed positively as investment not cost. To some cash-strapped institutions, it is something that they would like to control to survive. To some miserly affluent companies or businessmen, however, it is something they’ve made their hapless employees continue to starve. Clearly, in these three scenarios, employers differ in the ways they treat their employees and in their approaches in compensating them. Some are too generous, a few are reasonable and others are just too stingy.

On the other hand, laborers and employees differ in many ways too. Overly protected by our labor laws, even those with salaries three times higher than the established minimum wage are filing notices of strikes. Yet, it is a fact too that despite receiving wages way below established floors from unreasonable employers, some laborers just grumble in the corner by their lonesome. Obviously, they prefer to have little something than have nothing at all.

Indeed, there are varying approaches and these are either necessitated by business and economic conditions or just mere attitude. So that, we always applaud our lawmakers when they intervene appropriately.

For instance, just last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill increasing the paid incentive leave of employees from five days to 10 days. The proposed amendment to the Labor Code provides that “every employee who has rendered at least one year of service would be entitled to a yearly service incentive leave of 10 days.”

We can’t help but agree with the bill’s authors that this proposed amendment “would boost workers’ morale, wellness and productivity.” True enough, given the opportunity to recharge or reinvigorate, employees’ health and well-being are well addressed. Not only that, having more time with their families make the employees thresh out domestic concerns that shall potentially ruin their families.  These are family problems that shall usually lead to absences from work and punctuality. Thus, obviously, will negatively affect productivity.

Moreover, the proposed amendment also emphasized that “the entitlement would not apply to those already enjoying such incentive or those receiving vacation leave with pay of at least 10 days, and those in establishments employing fewer than 10 workers.” This exception is, likewise, appropriate.

First and foremost, this proposed amendment obviously addresses those stingy employers who can well afford but are just merely complying with the provision of the existing law. Logically, it spares employers (who are giving at least 10 days paid leave) who are more than compliant. Probably, employers who are generous enough to recognize contributions of their employees.

Secondly, sparing those employers having fewer than 10 workers is, likewise, appropriate. At least, the authors of the proposed amendment have recognized the fact that these employers (just having a few employees) are, indeed, small or business start-ups. Obviously, they can ill-afford to pay such additional 5 days (of paid leave). Well, for the time being.

Indeed, this proposed mandatory 10-day paid leave is fair and mutually advantageous.


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