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Monday, September 08, 2008

Circumventing the Philippine Labor Code

English Philosopher Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke might as well be speaking to the HR practitioners of the Philippines. This is because the evil of oppressive, profit-at-the-expense-of-labor type of employment continue to triumph in the Philippines. Here are some examples

Recently, a friend resigned from her work as HR Officer because the employer, a considerably profitable company refuses to pay for the mandatory contributions of their employees who are working as agency workers deployed to client companies. The said contributions were deducted from employees but the money did not reach their supposed destination. The employer continues to enjoy living the sweet life while the employees could not avail of their government mandated benefits.

A number of companies continue to thrive despite paying below the minimum set by the government and refuse much deserved benefits to their employees. A lot of these employees are driving some of the biggest and most known brands in the country.

A reader recently inquired about the legality of her boss's plan of asking employees to resign instead of retrenching them in order to avoid payment for their separation which obviously is an attempt to circumvent the labor code.

Some employers argue that employees who ask for additional pay for overtime work have poor work attitude and greedy. They are viewed with contempt. Because of this many workers endure back breakingly long hours of work without the premium because they dare not request for overtime work payment.

There is also the continuing and thriving industry of labor-only-contracting where companies, in order to reduce their labor cost by avoiding regular employment hire the services of mercenary companies who hire marginalized workers for them and pay equally marginalized fees.

Lastly, there is the endless stream of seasonal workers who are hired for one season, fired and then rehired for another season. And because the year can be broken down to valentine, summer, back to school, rainy and Christmas seasons, seasonal workers are employed all year long for a number of years without the benefits of regular employment.

Sadly, all of these are happening with the consent and participation of HR. In some instances, the HR practitioners are helpless pawns but in some, they are the authors. Many of these companies can be seen in the manufacturing and service industries. They are not limited to small businesses. Some of the biggest businesses in the country employ dirty tricks to pay less while getting more from their employees, a truly sad state of HR Management affairs in the Philippines.

Here's my call to action. HR should refuse to serve as a tool for the violation of labor code. We should hold our ground and assert what is right whenever employers are tempted to conveniently circumvent or worse break some labor laws. I challenge the professional HR organizations in the country to act against profiteering companies who continue to oppress their employees with their self-serving payment and employment policies.

Let's stop the abuses, let's do something.


  1. in my "past life" i stood up to HR for something patently illegal. they couldn't make me sign an illegal contract.

    I knew my rights. i used to be a union officer and knowledgable of the labor code :P

  2. This is one more reason why some people brand HR as evil. They make you sign things you should't. HR Shouldn't do that, but the truth is, some of us do. :(

  3. and sometimes, they dont stay true to the contract... and to their words because "it's management prerogative".

  4. Anonymous9:29 PM

    abuses to employees' rights by employers are indeed prevalent here in the Philippines. but why should we blame the HR officers alone? on the contrary, i believe that it is the companies or the managements themselves who are the real masterminds of the violation against the labor code, the HR officers being merely tools of said management. The latter, too, have very little choice--they must obey the management or else. To solve this kind of problem, why don't the unions defend the workers' rights? Or if there is no union, why not organize one? after all, the right to self-organize is one of the constitutionally granted rights of workers.

    here in the philippines, it is almost a culture among companies to circumvent the law if it means lowering their operation cost. it is up to the laborers and unions to fight back. as to the laborers, they can always call the attention of DOLE or the regional labor arbiter anytime.

    i guess one root of the problem is that many members of our workforce are willing to accept below-standard, almost oppressive kind of work rather than be unemployed. this is what we get for having too large a workforce.people barely have a choice.


If you have an opinion about this topic or a related experience you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment but please be respectful. No bad words please or I will be constrained to delete it.