Labour inspection in the Philippines

The Philippine’s labour administration continues to face numerous challenges in providing labour protection services to approximately 778,000 establishments1 covering around 5.7 million workers in 16 regions2. The Philippines tripartite Labour & Employment Plan 2011-2016 (PLEP) recognizes that the implementation of labour standards remains a challenge. The gap in promoting and protecting the rights of workers is especially evident in the weak enforcement of minimum standards. This has been a regular cause of costly labour disputes resulting in many court cases, which is an inefficient means to guarantee workers’ rights, and negatively affects investment, economic growth and productivity in the country.

The PLEP argues that improving labour law compliance should be addressed through an “intensified labour inspection program” (the so-called Labour Law Compliance System) that would help ensure compliance with general working conditions and occupational safety and health laws as well as the fundamental principles and rights at work. Having adequate numbers of qualified and technically competent inspectors within a properly resourced and strategically oriented inspectorate is fundamental in this regard.

In recent years, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has undertaken initiatives to strengthen its labour enforcement and compliance system. This includes the issuance of a DOLE Department Order No. 131-13, series of 2013, covering the Rules on Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS) which mainly drew on the recommendations of a prior ILO Labour Inspection Audit. The introduction of this new policy also takes into account the lessons and recommendations from the previous Labour Standards Enforcement Framework (LSEF).The LLCS promotes a culture of voluntary compliance on labour and OSH standards and encourages strategic partnerships with employers and workers, as well as partnerships with various government agencies. The new LLCS removes self-assessments and replaces/ strengthens the system thru three approaches: 1) bi-partite Joint-Assessments are carried out covering all establishments, starting with those identified as high priority; 2) compliance visits are undertaken when there is a complaint filed against a company/ establishment, and; 3) OSH investigations are conducted when there is an imminent danger, disabling injury, and/or violations in “plain view” of the LLCOs.

The labour inspectors, now called Labour Law Compliance Officers (LLCOs), under this new System, are expected to assist enterprises to close gaps of noncompliance through DOLE’s integrated set of programmes and services. The entry points for the implementation of these programmes and services are the bi-partite structures at the enterprise level where remedial measures are followed up and monitored. If the employer persists with non-compliance and do not take measures to address gaps, the regulatory enforcement component of LLCS will apply.

As of 2013, around 26,748 establishments had been covered. Based on the revised number of LLCOs, around 76,000 establishments are projected to be covered per year.

While progress has been made in the Philippines towards building its compliance system as detailed above, the government acknowledges that further work is needed to strengthen the human and institutional capacity of its inspectorate throughout the country.

The ILO’s strategy to assist tripartite constituents strengthen the new labour inspection system includes two major components. First component involves enhancing the capacities of DOLE to enforce a Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS) that is consistent with relevant international standards, in particular with the requirements of ILO Convention No. 81. Second component includes building the capacities of workers and employers to play a more active role in the implementation of the LLCS, in particular through joint assessments.


1An establishment is defined as an economic unit, which engages, under a single ownership or control, in one or predominantly one kind of economic activity at a single fixed physical location. (Figures are based on latest data of the National Statistics Office).

2Based on 2010 DOLE administrative data for workers covered by inspection. Number of establishments excludes those in
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.