Issue of November 5, 2017

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Guidelines on security guard services

Mang Freddy,” as he is fondly called by employees of the company he works for, follows a dress code. For the many years he has been a security guard. He experienced being posted at the entrance and exit doors wearing the standard blue and white uniform. At times he is assigned inside the premises and wears a Barong Tagalog or civilian clothes to conceal his identity.

Mang Freddy is the face of men and women we call private security guards. They are present in private and government offices, schools, commercial establishments, and residential areas.

Based on the records of the licensing office of the Philippine National Police, there are approximately 500,000 licensed private security guards in the country and this does not include those hired directly as personal bodyguards.

Numbers-wise, they outnumber the 272,500 strong Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP’s 170,000, more or less, police personnel.

Law enforcement agencies, especially the PNP, consider private security guards as “force multipliers” in areas where there are limited police officers and barangay tanod; or when where the PNP is incapable of sending police mobile cars for regular patrols, these private security guards are there for assistance.

In the performance of their duties, these men and women put their lives and limbs in danger protecting persons and properties, but sadly they are often poorly paid and deprived of the benefits that private employees are entitled to under the law.

To promote the welfare of these unsung guardians of persons and properties, the Department of Labor and Employment in Feb. 16, 2016 issued Department Order 150-16, s. 2016, which spelled out the rules on employment and working conditions of security guards and other security personnel in the private security industry.

DO 150-16 has amended DO 14, s. 2001 by introducing key improvements in simplifying description of their employment status. It also specifies the composition of a service agreement, stipulating the rights and benefits of a security personnel, and explaining further the rules on deductions for loss or damage as well as deductions for the cash bond.

The rules state that security guards and other private security personnel assigned to a person or company (defined as “principal”) are considered employees of the security service contractor or private security agency (PSA).

When a service agreement is entered into between a PSA and a principal, the DOLE regional office concerned can order the parties to submit to it a copy of the agreement that contains, among other things, provisions relating to the nature of the work to be done, its terms and conditions, and the basic equipment (at least one handgun) to be provided to the guard.

In addition, the PSA should make an undertaking to directly remit every month the employer’s share and employee’s contribution to the Social Security System, Employees Compensation Commission, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Home Development Mutual Fund. The latter obligation is significant because based on past records, many PSAs have been negligent in this area to the detriment of the security guards when they retire or are disabled.

A critical requirement in the agreement is an “automatic crediting provision,” which shall state that in case DOLE issues wage orders increasing the security guards’ wages and other wage-related benefits, the principal shall shoulder the increase and the agreements shall be deemed amended accordingly.

This means the burden of making upward adjustments in the guards’ wages pursuant to DOLE’s orders has to be assumed by the principal even if they are considered employees of the PSA, and not of the principal.

This requirement will do away with the present practice where PSAs are obliged to re-negotiate their agreements with their principals in case wage orders are issued without the assurance that the principal will agree to the wage adjustment.

Corollary to this responsibility, the rules provide that in case a PSA fails to pay the guards’ wages, the principal shall be considered their “indirect employer” and therefore shall become jointly and severally liable with the PSA in paying the wages to the extent of the work they have performed under the agreement.

And talking of wages, under the law, the guards, like all other private employees, are entitled to the minimum wage set by DOLE for the area where they perform their work but the reality on the ground, however, is this requirement is more observed in breach by some PSAs through schemes like extending the guards’ working hours without overtime pay, treating Sundays and holidays as regular working days, or using less than fair factors in computing their wages.

Security guards and other private security personnel, whether deployed or assigned as reliever, seasonal, week-ender, or temporary, shall be entitled to safe and healthful working conditions; labor standards, such as, but not limited to, service incentive leave, premium pay, overtime pay, holiday pay, night shift differential, 13th month pay, and separation pay as may be provided in the Service Agreement or under the Labor Code, as amended.

They are also entitled to retirement benefits under Republic Acts 7641 and 1161 as amended by RA 8282, and retirement plans of the security service contractor, if any; social security benefits; rights to self-organization and collective bargaining, subject to the provisions of existing law; and security of tenure. Mandatory registration and registry of legitimate security service contractors pursuant to the provisions of DO18-A, s. 2011, is also required.

While the PNP, through its supervisory office for Security and Investigation Agencies, is in charge with the licensing of security guards and related operational matters, the responsibility of seeing to it the employment relationship among the security guards, PSAs and principals comply with the law rests with DOLE.

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