10 reasons why the Labor Code should be amended

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

I was invited by DOLE to the department's anniversary falling on Immaculate Conception. This is my message to my good friend, Secretary Bebot Bello.

Forty-five years for a martial law document is too long. The current Congress must amend, overhaul, or change it before the next Congress. It’s no longer a question of why but rather, why not. The Labor Code was a martial law document designed by a dictator to lord it over employers and workers.

The first reason is that this code is no longer what the country needs today. While the world has changed tremendously due to technology and other drivers of innovation, we are still using a martial law-fundamental labor law that has become an anachronism in today's globalized economy. When the Labor Code was promulgated in 1974, there were no laptops, internet, or ATMs. Secretary Ople, the Father of the Labor Code used telegrams and other ancient ways to communicate, workers lined up before cashiers for their pay. HR management was ancient, and the workers were called laborers, thus the law was called Labor Code. Today, they are no longer personnel or staff, or human resources, but human capital.

Second, the laws on Employment (Book 1) focus on recruitment and deployment abroad. This promotes the diaspora of human capital overseas. The government pushes Filipino talents to leave the country and work in other territories. Third, the laws on Human Development (Book 2) is too fixated on technical and vocational issues and neglects the emerging needs for the massive technological changes in the world labor markets. Fourth, the law on wages (Book 3) is too fixated on time spent at work, or compensating human capital based on number of hours, rather than on productivity and quality of results. In short, the wage system forces employers to pay based only on time spent rather than on results.

Fifth, the law on job contracting and service contracting doesn’t respect the freedom of the contracting parties to stipulate mutually-acceptable terms. Government interferes too much in wage formulation and this stifles the growth of both business and human capital. Sixth, there are simply too many leaves and paid non-productive days. Maternity leaves of 105 plus 15 (solo moms) plus 30 (unpaid) is too much burden on the employers. Added to these are the unlimited numbers of domestic violence-related leaves of 10 days with full pay for each act of physical, emotional, and even economic violence inflicted on females. Add to that the 60 days for OB-gyne related ailment where employers have to allow sick women to leave for two months with full pay based on gross compensation. Too much.

Seventh, the wage systems do not distinguish between giants like big conglomerates, and micro-, small-, and medium-scale enterprises struggling to survive. And they constitute over 95% of our economy. Eighth, the laws on occupational safety and health need to be reexamined and attuned to the varying needs of every industry. SSS and GSIS should be integrated and overhauled on the matter of death, sickness, and disability benefits. Ninth, the labor relations laws are disorganized, we don’t know if they are fundamentally structured for free collective bargaining or for strictly compulsory arbitration.

Lastly, the labor-dispute settlement system is the most pretentious yet ineffective, inefficient, expensive, dilatory, and corrupt. It takes many years to write finis to a case. This system should be changed by a completely conciliation and voluntary-arbitration based mechanism. The NLRC should be abolished, leaving only the NCMB. Visitorial powers should be limited and assumptions of jurisdictions abrogated. We are no longer under martial law.


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