ECoP flags penal sanctions in work safety bill

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THE Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) in a statement last Thursday said it finds “worrisome” certain provisions in the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act (OSHS), one of which imposes an administrative fine of P100,000 a day for non-correction of violations of occupational safety standards.

The proposed bill, which is among the priority measures listed by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), was approved by the bicameral conference committee last Monday, May 21.

The bill aims to strengthen compliance among companies when it comes to employees’ health and safety in the workplace.

But ECoP, in its statement, as also posted on its Web site, noted: “One of the salient provisions of the said Bill is the imposition of an administrative fine of P100,000 per day of non-correction of OSH standards violation, counted from the date when the employer or contractor is notified of the violation or the date the compliance order is duly served on the employer.”

“It also provides for imprisonment of not less than one (1) year to twelve (12) years, at the discretion of the court, as the case may be,” the statement also noted.

“ECoP finds these provisions worrisome and a cause of concern as the Bill fails to take into account the realities of the Philippine labor market which are characterized by a tight formal sector and a large informal sector that is estimated to consist of 36.13 million workers in 2016,” the group said.

ECoP said the formal sector “is mostly constituted of micro and small establishments (MSMEs), comprising of 907,750 establishments which are 99.13% of the total number of registered establishments in the Philippines.”

“These enterprises are generally short on capital and technology and rely mainly on human skills and resources to produce their goods and services. This means that about 99% of the establishments in the formal sector will most likely not be able to afford the cost of OSHS compliance,” the group also said.

It added that “these excessive fines, especially if imposed on MSME employers, (are) violative of Sec. 19 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution which prohibits the imposition of excessive fines.”

“On the same note, implementing the proposed penal sanctions of the Bill which include imprisonment would be counterproductive and destructive. By doing so, the MSME employer not only loses his business but his employees lose their jobs as well.”

Further sought for comment on Sunday, ECoP said, “We’re opposed to the imposition of excessive (fines), not only it is prohibited by the Bill of Rights of the Constitution but it’s destructive to the viability of micro and small enterprises which constitute more than 90% of all enterprises.” — Gillian M. Cortez





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