The workers basic rights
In one of the malls in Baguio City, Joy, a single mom works as a cashier. Her monthly salary is P9,100 or P350 per day for every 26 working days. Her salary is not enough to provide for the needs of her two kids. She might not know that when she works beyond eight hours she should be compensated. She never bothered talking to her supervisor about it. She had convinced herself that it is okay to extend hours of work as long as she has a permanent job for her family’s basic needs.
Joy appears to be digging a deeper hole for herself by not bringing up the matter with her supervisor. She believes that she has no right to ask about why there is no overtime and she thinks she has to work harder and put in more time before she’s able to get an overtime pay. This is the same case with many other workers in the country. Many people like Joy have no idea they have basic rights as workers. But there’s another aspect to the problem. Even employers may not be aware of their employees’ rights in the workplace.
In the equal work opportunities for all under the Rights of Employees, it is said that the State shall protect labor, promote full employment, provide equal work opportunity regardless of gender, race, or creed and regulate employee-employer relations. Male and female employees are entitled to equal compensation for work of equal value and to equal access to promotion and training opportunities. Discrimination against female employees is illegal. It is also illegal for an employer to require a condition of employment that a woman employee shall not get married or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that a woman employee shall be deemed dismissed upon marriage. The minimum age of employment is 18 years for hazardous jobs and 15 years for non-hazardous jobs. But a child below 15 maybe employed by parents or guardians in a non-hazardous job if the employment does not interfere with the child’s schooling.
Every employee shall be assured security of tenure. No employee can be dismissed from work except for a just or authorized cause and only after due process. Just cause refers to any wrongdoing committed by an employee including: serious misconduct, willful disobedience of employers’ lawful orders connected with work, gross and habitual neglect of duty, fraud or willful breach of trust, commission of crime or offense against the employer, employer’s family member/s or representative and other analogous cases.
The authorized cause refers to an economic circumstance not due to the employee’s fault, including the introduction of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses, and closure or cessation of business. Due process in cases of just cause involves notice to employee of intent to dismiss and grounds for dismissal, opportunity for employee to explain his or her side, and notice of decision to dismiss.
In authorized causes, due process means written notice of dismissal to the employee specifying the grounds, at least 30 days before the date of termination. The inability of a probationary employee to meet the employer’s prescribed standards of performance made known to him or her at the time of hiring is also a just cause for dismissal.
Work day refers to any day during which an employee is regularly required to work. Hours of work refer to all the time an employee renders actual work, or is required to be on duty or to be at a prescribed workplace. The normal number of hours of work in a day is eight hours. This includes breaks or rest period of less than one hour, but excludes meal periods, which shall not be less than one hour. An employee must be paid his or her wages for all hours worked. If all or any part of his or her regular work hours falls between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., an employee shall be entitled to a night shift pay in addition to his or her pay for regular work hours. If he or she works for more than eight hours in one day, he or she shall be entitled to overtime pay while a weekly rest day is a dayoff of 24 consecutive hours after six days of work should be scheduled by the employer upon consultation with the workers.
Wage is the amount paid to an employee in exchange for a task, piece of work, or service rendered to an employer. This includes overtime, night differential, rest day, holiday, and 13th month pay. It also includes the fair and reasonable value of board, lodging, and other facilities customarily furnished by the employer.
Wage may be fixed for a given period as when it is computed hourly, daily, or monthly. It may also be fixed for a specified task or result. If wage is for a fixed period, the minimum wage for a regular eight-hour workday shall not be lower than the minimum daily wage applicable to the place of work as determined by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board having jurisdiction over the workplace. If wage is paid by result, the worker shall receive at least the prescribed minimum wage for eight hours of work. The amount may be increased or reduced proportionately if work is rendered for more or less than eight hours a day.
An employer cannot make any deduction from an employee’s wage except for insurance premiums with the consent of the employee, for union dues, or for withholding taxes, Social Security System premiums, and other deductions expressly authorized by law. Wages shall be paid in cash or legal tender at or near the place of work. Payment may be made through a bank upon written petition of majority of the workers in establishments with 25 or more employees and within one kilometer radius to a bank. Payment shall be made directly to the employees. Wages shall be given not less than once every two weeks or twice within a month at intervals not exceeding 16 days.
Other important basic rights of workers include employment of women and nightwork prohibition unless allowed by the rules; provision of safe working conditions; right to self-organization and collective bargaining and the employees’ compensation benefits for work-related contingencies which are medical benefits for sickness/injuries, disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and death and funeral benefits; and pension benefits.