Lawmakers unite to penalize non-compliant employers

April 29, 2013 11:42 pm 

MANILA, April 29 – Lawmakers of the current Congress are hopeful that the members of the incoming congress will prioritize the enactment of House Bill 6924 into a law which aims to increase the penalties for non-compliant employers in the prescribed increase and adjustment of workers’ wage rates.

"Fact is, the measure was earlier filed by the then Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III, now the President of the Philippines," said Northern Samar 2nd district Rep. Emil Ong who is also chairman of House Committee on Labor and Employment.

With the enactment of the bill, Ong added that it will “discourage” employers from committing such abuse over their employees and will also “serve as deterrent to the commission of wage violations of unscrupulous employers.”

Meanwhile, Oriental Mindoro 2nd district Rep. Reynaldo Umali mentioned the State’s obligation on protection of laborers’ rights and uplifting of their welfare as stipulated under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies of the 1987 Constitution.

"In 1995, non-compliance was estimated to be 53 percent; dropped to 20 percent in 1999 but increased to almost 30 percent the following year. The succeeding years showed a continued resurgence of minimum wage violations which the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) estimated to be 45 percent," Umali added.

On the other hand, Easter Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, also a co-author of the bill, said that from the 53 percent non-compliance in 1995, there was an estimated 81 percent compliance rate in 2005.

"This is a great improvement,” Evardone remarked.

Democratic Independent Workers’ Association (DIWA) Rep. Emmeline Aglipay , another author of the measure, said that “DOLE is undermanned to conduct consistent monitoring and enforcement strategies.”

Hence, figures of non-compliance “may in fact be higher” according to the DIWA solon.

Under the bill that lawmakers seek to implement, Republic Act 6727 which is revised by virtue of Republic Act 8188 or the Wage Rationalization Act, shall be amended again with the increase of the penalty for non-compliance with prescribed increases and adjustments in the wage rates of workers.

The measure pushes for the increase of penalty for non-compliance with prescribed wage adjustments from P25,000-P100,000 to P100,000 – P300,000 for every worker affected.

Moreover, the violator shall also give exemplary compensations of at least Php 50,000 per worker, and shall shoulder the cost of proceedings as well as attorney's fees.

"With enhanced monitoring by the DOLE and the new teeth that is being proposed in the measure, it is expected that the mantle of protection can be stretched for the workers and will be much more assured," Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito (Lone District, San Juan City), another co-author, said.

House Bill 6924 was approved and reported in last April 15. The bill also stands as a substitute of HBs 942, 1817, 1889, and 2884 authored by Ong, Umali, Batangas 1st district Rep. Tomas Apacible, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Aglipay, Evardone, and Ejercito, respectively.(PNA)

DSP/TBG/SSC/EGC

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