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Layman’s Legal Series: DOLE Department Order No. 183, S. 2017

On October 18, 2017, the Department of Labor and Employment (“DOLE”) issued Department Order No. 183, Series of 2017 (“DO 183”), which revised the previous DOLE rules on the administration and enforcement of labor laws.

Prior to the enactment of DO 183,  DOLE implemented a developmental approach in the conduct of labor inspections. Under DO 183, the approach will now be regulatory, which means that the DOLE will be stricter in ensuring compliance with the labor laws.

Below are the highlights of DO 183:

  1. DOLE is authorized to conduct surprise inspections and is no longer required to give employers written notice prior to an inspection.
  2. DOLE will no longer issue certificates of compliance to employers. Under previous DOLE rules, employers were issued a certificate of compliance that meant a presumption of compliance for a period of two (2) years.
  3. DOLE Labor Inspectors are still required to present a written “Authority to Inspect” before conducting the inspection (i.e. examination of the employment records, interview of employees, and inspection of the premises).

The three (3) modes of inspection are as follows:

  1. Routine Inspection (formerly, joint assessment);
  2. Complaint Inspection (formerly, compliance visit); and
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) Investigation.

Under DO 183, work stoppage orders (“WSOs”) are issued under the following circumstances:

  1. By the DOLE Regional Director if, during an OSHS investigation, it is determined that an imminent danger or a dangerous occurrence exists or when a disabling injury has occurred in the establishment subject of the investigation; and
  2. By the DOLE Secretary, who may issue industry-wide WSOs under exceptional circumstances.

Even in the absence of a WSO issued by the DOLE Regional Director, DO 183 requires employers to suspend work if the OSHS violation poses imminent danger to the life of the employees or can cause death or serious physical harm. During the period of work suspension, employers are required to pay the employees’ wages.

Prior to DO 183, anyone from the employer’s management and any of the employees may be appointed as employer and employee representatives, respectively, during the conduct of inspections or investigations.

Under DO 183, the employer’s representative must be anyone of the following:

  1. owner;
  2. president;
  3. vice president;
  4. manager; or
  5. any other officer holding a managerial position.

The employees’ representative, on the other hand, must be any of the following:

  1. the designated representative in the collective bargaining agreement;
  2. any rank-and-file employee present at the time of inspection from the Labor-Management Committee, Compliance Committee, Safety and Health Committee, or Family Welfare Committee; or
  3. If none of the employees referred to in (1) and (2) are present at the time of inspection, any employee present during the inspection may be the considered the employees’ representative.

The period of correction for any violation of the general labor standards is now reduced to ten (10) days.

If a compliance order is issued directing the employer to regularize employees and this order is appealed to the Office of the Secretary of Labor, the employer cannot dismiss the employees directed to be regularized during the pendency of the appeal.

Any action plan to be submitted by the establishment must be prepared with the assistance of a Labor Inspector. If an action plan is submitted, the establishment must submit a status report on the action plan within five (5) days after the schedule of remediation of all violations. Failure to submit a status report shall cause the issuance of a compliance order.

The DOLE may at any time, and even if the establishment submits proof of compliance or correction of violations of labor laws, conduct follow-up inspections of the relevant establishment to confirm its compliance with or correction of any violations.

All establishments must keep employment records (such as the employees’ contracts, service agreements with contractors, and payroll) for at least three (3) years from their date of execution or issuance.

All work accidents and occupational illnesses in the workplace (other than those which involve disabling injury or death) must be reported to the DOLE Regional Office on or before the 20th of every month using the OSHS form. In other words, establishments are required to submit its report on work accidents and occupational illnesses by the 20th of each month. If a work accident occurred on November 21, it must be reported to the DOLE Regional Office on December 20 at the latest. In cases of work accidents resulting in disabling injury or death, work accidents and occupational illnesses must be reported to the DOLE Regional Office within twenty-four (24) hours of their occurrence.

Please be guided accordingly. Should you have further questions regarding the foregoing, please do not hesitate to reach out to the LMS-Labor Team.


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