As the country celebrated Labor Day, the House of Representatives has continued discussing bills that raise penalties for non-compliance with government-prescribed minimum wages and other workers’ benefits.
The committee on labor and employment chaired by Rep. Randolph Ting (3rd District, Cagayan) has discussed House Bill 5018, authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, seeking to ensure the employees’ right to their wages, including wage-related benefits, and social security and welfare benefits, amending for the purpose Presidential Decree 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines.
The committee has also discussed House Bill 356, authored by Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Party-list DIWA). Her bill seeks to raise the penalties for non-compliance with the government-prescribed minimum wages, amending for the purpose Section 12 of Republic Act 6727, otherwise known as the Wage Rationalization Act, as amended.
The Speaker said HB 5018 aims to curb the illegal practice of private sector employers of non-compliance with the proper and appropriate payment of minimum wage.
The Speaker said the current penalties are not strong enough to completely stop the unjust and unreasonable conditions suffered by labor workers.
“Labor workers are ‘a company’s greatest asset’ according to businesswoman Anne Mulcahy, and these assets should receive the right wages and benefits they so rightfully deserve. This bill seeks to increase the penalties so as to impose stricter guidelines for the employers. In doing so, this could serve as a deterrent to the non-compliance of payment of prescribed minimum wage rates by unjust employers,” said Alvarez.
When it comes to wages, the Speaker said the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board or the Regional Wage Board imposes the minimum wage in their respective regions and employees in the Philippines. It must be paid no less than the specified rates. In the case of NCR for instance, the minimum wage is P481 per day, he said.
“Aside from wages, basic entitlements of employees also include, among others, the right to receive wage-related benefits through coverage under the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund or PAG-IBIG Fund. These benefits are also essential to ensure the economic and social security of the workers,” said Alvarez.
Aglipay-Villar said HB 356 seeks to protect private sector minimum wage earners by increasing the penalty imposed on employers for non-compliance with the applicable minimum wage rates.
“The minimum wage rates fixed by the different Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) are lower than the ideal living wage. Be that as it may, compliance by employers or establishments of the regional mandated minimum wages has remained a persistent problem. Data culled by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reveal that one in every five workers is not paid the applicable minimum wage,” said Aglipay-Villar.
Increasing the penalty for non-compliance with the prescribed daily minimum wage rates will thus serve as a deterrent to the commission of wage violations by unscrupulous employers, said Aglipay-Villar.