The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently issued Department Order No. 238, Series of 2023 or the “Rules on the Administration and Enforcement of Labor Standards pursuant to Article 128 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as renumbered, and Republic Act No. 11058” (“DO 238-23“). DO 238-23 aims to strengthen the visitorial and enforcement power of the Secretary of Labor and Employment to ensure and maintain higher levels of compliance with respect to general labor standards, occupational safety and health standards, and other social legislations among various establishments across different industries.
DO 238-23 supersedes Department Order No. 183, Series of 2017 (“DO 183-17“) and aims to introduce three new approaches by which the Secretary of Labor and Employment may conduct inspections of establishments through its visitorial and enforcement powers under the Philippine Labor Code.
DO 238-23 enumerates the establishments prioritized for visits, inspections, and/or investigations by DOLE, as follows:
- Engaged in hazardous work
- Employing children and/or women
- Construction projects
- Philippine-registered ships or vessels engaged in domestic shipping
- Fishing vessels
- Engaged in contracting and subcontracting arrangements
- Subject of Single-Entry Approach (SEnA) referral, anonymous complaint, or request for inspection
- Other establishments as may be determined by the Secretary of Labor and Employment
New modes of implementation
Whereas DO 183-17 had likewise set out the three methods by which the Secretary of Labor and Employment implements its visitorial and enforcement power (i.e., routine inspection, complaint inspection, and occupational safety and health standards investigation), DO 238-23 introduces three new approaches to be used by the Secretary of Labor and Employment moving forward. These are (a) technical and advisory visits (TAV), (b) labor inspections, and (c) occupational safety and health (OSH) investigations.
Endorsement of findings related to mandatory social benefits
The DOLE Regional Director shall endorse any findings relating to the non-coverage of employees and/or non-remittance of premiums to the Philippine Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (“Pag-IBIG“), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (“PhilHealth“) for appropriate action.
Access to employment records
DO 238-23 requires employers to keep and maintain their employment records in and about the premises of all their workplaces for at least three years. Should the employer maintain a centralized recording system, it must be able to provide access or produce a hard copy of documents as requested by the labor inspector.
Refusal of access to records, work premises, or employees during the conduct of an inspection or investigation shall result in the filing of a criminal action against the employer or responsible officers of the establishment.
In case there are remaining deficiencies that have not been addressed within five days from the issuance of the Notice to Visit Results pursuant to a TAV or after the correction period for labor inspections and occupational safety and health investigations lapses, the DOLE Regional Director shall conduct compliance proceedings.
Through DO 238-23, DOLE is able to highlight its commitment to secure and ensure continuity of higher levels of compliance of various establishments with Philippine general labor standards, occupational safety and health standards, and other social legislations. The new set of rules aims to emphasize its stance on occupational safety and health in the workplace, and improve the overall quality and depth of DOLE inspections nationwide.
*Authored by Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein. Please contact QTInfoDesk@quisumbingtorres.com for inquiries.