Labour law compliance through social dialogue

ILO and ECOP Capacitate MSMEs on Labour Law Compliance through Social Dialogue in Naga City

Recognizing the key role of micro small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippine economy and the challenges they face in complying with minimum labour standards, the ILO in partnership with the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) conducted a series of two-day training workshops on “ Capacitating Employers to Implement the Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS) through Social Dialogue”.

The International Labour Organization (ILO)-Swedish International Development Aid (SIDA) Partnership Programme on Promoting the Right to Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining conducted series of training workshops on Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS). The main objectives of this training workshops were to raise awareness among employers and their representatives in the implementation of the guidelines on the new LLCS, and capacitating them in using this for eventual certification and as a platform for social dialogue.

The LLCS is DOLE’s new banner programme replacing the former Labour Standards Enforcement Framework (LSEF), and is anchored on the following elements:

• Replacement of self assessment by enterprises with joint assessments to ensure workers’ participation in the process. Other modes of assessment such as compliance visits based on complaints and workplace investigation in the event of an accident remain.

• Employers and workers are expected to develop and jointly implement and monitor remediation plans to address priority compliance issues within a specific period. During this period an enterprise may avail of any of the DOLE’s programmes to assist enterprises towards compliance for free.

• Assessment results are gathered electronically by Labor Law Compliance Officers (LLCOs) using the LLCS-Management Information System (LLCS-MIS). This ensures integrity of findings and allows for transparency in the process. This also enables DOLE to generate and make better use of compliance data for policy making.

• The remediation plans allow for a process of conciliation and mediation in the implementation of corrective actions.

• Supported by an incentivizing programme to encourage enterprises towards compliance.

For ECOP, this was also a strategy to reach out to MSMEs which comprise a very small percentage of their membership base, despite comprising 90% of industries in the Philippines. There were a total of 68 participants in the three trainings, with 25 males and 43 females. Participating enterprises were selected by ECOP from DOLE’s list of enterprises issued with Notices of Assessment.

The training workshop was designed to focus on basic general labour standards and occupational safety and health standards covered in the LLCS Checklist, followed by an orientation on the basic elements and processes of social dialogue, and ended with each enterprise developing their own action plans to address priority compliance issues.

The design of the training programme was also in response to concerns raised by workers’ organizations that employers are generally unaware of the LLCS process and often designate employees’ representatives themselves, in the process undermining the independence of the assessment.

It was the first time that most participants have fully understood the LLCS, the comprehensive set of labour laws they have to comply with, and DOLE’s free programmes and services which can help them comply. It was also emphasized during the training that social dialogue can be established in both unionized and non unionized firms, and does bring benefits to enterprises. A point that was emphasized to participating employers was how compliance is both a duty and an obligation of employers, and how respecting the independence of workers’ representatives in the assessment process can help an enterprise address compliance issues.

Some of the recommendations from participating enterprises were:

• DOLE, preferably in consultation with ECOP, should design a pamphlet to be distributed to start-up business enterprises on the labor laws and requirements they need to comply with.

• DOLE should have continuing information and education campaigns on wages and subcontracting rules and regulations.

• ECOP and the local chamber should coordinate with DOLE for the provision of trainings on basic occupational safety and health (BOSH) as this is a precondition for compliance with OSHS; formulation of company personnel policies including on drug testing and HIV-AIDS awareness; productivity (5S); and records management to enable establishments, particularly small and medium enterprises, to prepare the necessary documents for compliance.

• In LLCS and related trainings, DOLE forms should be given out and properly explained.

• DOLE should clarify, preferably through an advisory or guideline, what employment records and documents are required to be kept by the establishment and shown to the LLCO during a compliance visit. Ideally, the establishment should be given a checklist of documents it must prepare prior to an assessment visit by the LLCO.

• The LLCOs should be customer-friendly and DOLE should have a good feedback mechanism to be able to evaluate the quality of inspection and assessment.

Mayor John Bongat addresses encourages the newly established Naga Chamber of Commerce to promote a culture of compliance especially among Naga City’s MSMEs.