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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Prohibitions Regarding Wages: Wage Deductions

The Labor Code of the Philippines, in requiring written authorization as a pre-requisite to wage deductions, seeks to protect the employee against unwarranted practices that would diminish his compensation without his knowledge and consent.

Nonetheless, service fee collected by the Union does not run counter to the express mandate of the law since the same are not unwarranted.  Also, the deductions for the union service fee are authorized by law and do not require individual check-off authorizations.  [Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. vs. Secretary of Labor, G.R. No. 77950, Jan. 9, 1989]

In one case, the question is whether the non-payment of stock subscriptions can be offset against a money claim of an employee against the employer.

The corporation admitted that there was due to the employee the amount of P17,060,07, but this was applied to the unpaid balance of his subscription in the amount of P95,439.93.  The employee questioned the set-off alleging that there was no call or notice for the payment of the unpaid subscription and that, accordingly, the alleged obligation was not enforceable.

The Court ruled that the set-off was without lawful basis, if not premature.  As there was no notice or call for the payment of unpaid subscriptions, the same is not yet due and payable.  Assuming that there was a call for payment of the unpaid subscription, the NLRC cannot validly set it off against the wages and other benefits due the petitioner.

Article 113 of the Labor Code allows such a deduction from the wages of the employees by the employer, only in three instances, to wit:  

(a)  in cases where the worker is insured with his consent by the employer, and the deduction is to recompense the employer for the amount paid by him as premium on the insurance;

(b)  for union dues, in cases where the right of the workers or his union to check-off has been recognized by the employer or authorized in writing by the individual worker concerned; and

(c)  in cases where the employer is authorized by law or regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor.  [Apodaca vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 80039, April 18, 1989]

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Overseas Employment Policy of the Philippines

The export of Filipino labor is an offspring of national poverty. The export of people, instead of products, has come about largely because of the high rate of unemployment and under-employment.

Particularly during the dark, debauched, and deplorable years of the Martial Law presidency, manpower export had to happen to alleviate the twin problems of unemployment and the deficit in the balance of trade.

But the dictatorial government did not even bother to formulate the courses of action that it would take if misfortune should befall its working citizens abroad. And yet, it did not forget to require homeward remittance of their earnings.

Because of the remittances, the so-called stop-gap measure fast evolved to become the country's top dollar-earning industry. Indeed, good sums of money flowed in.

But it was blood money. The remittances were accompanied by accounts of horrendous abuses suffered by Filipino workers in the hands of some foreign employers. The fate of the Contemplacions, the Magas, and the Balabagans woke the government up. Out of these tales of woe, condemned in widespread street demonstrations, the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995" (R.A. No. 8042) was passed during the Ramos Administration.

R.A. No. 8042

R.A. No. 8042, which was signed on June 7, 1995 and took effect on July 16, 1995, redefines the policy on overseas employment. It states in part: 
"While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizen shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development." (Sec. 2[c], R.A. No. 8042)


Republic Act No. 8042, furthermore, requires certain guarantee of protection for the overseas workers before they are deployed. It states: 
SEC. 4. Deployment of Migrant Workers -- The State shall deploy overseas Filipino workers only in countries where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected. The government recognizes any of the following as a guarantee for the protection of the receiving country for the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers:

(a) It has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of migrant workers;  
(b) It is a signatory to multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of migrant workers;  
(c) It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers; and  
(d) It is taking positive, concrete measures to protect the rights of migrant workers.

SEC. 5. Termination or Ban on Deployment -- Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 hereof, the government, in pursuit of the national interest or when public welfare so requires, may, at any time, terminate or impose a ban on the deployment of migrant workers.

Cesario Alvero Azucena, Jr., The Labor Code With Comments and Cases, 1999, p. 44.

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