DOLE’s regularization program and small businesses

  • Over 500K employees were regularized following DOLE’s program.
  • No baseline as to how many employees are non-regulars.
  • Regularization drive does not consider effects on small and medium businesses.

It is a good feeling to be a regular employee. I recall an HR Manager telling me that an employee who had been with them for some couple of years was in teary eyes when she was informed that she would be regularized. The employee shared how it was her first time to be a regular employee despite having worked in at least 3 companies before her current employment.

This is representative of the many other non-regular employees who long to be a regular employee in the place they work.

Since the past 3 years, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has been actively pushing for its Regularization Program whereby businesses are being inspected for labor law compliance and penalized if there are violations, in particular being directed to regularize employees.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Belo announced this week that they over 500,000 workers have been regularized and thus benefited from their program. However, he laments that there is no baseline data on the employment population and thus he cannot give a fair picture of their success rate in terms of percentage.

It is interesting that there is no such data considering that businesses are regularly required to submit reportorial requirements to DOLE, such as payment of 13th month pay, separation of employees due to authorized causes, adoption of compressed workweeks, to name a few.

These forms contain questions on the number of employees in the workforce. It is thus possible to have data of the employment workforce. If they want to have more, then these forms should be re-evaluated and improved to get the data that they are looking for to make their study.

While DOLE’s program on regularization is commendable, including its “voluntary program” which is code for you may want to do it willfully to avoid a case, the agency does not consider the impact this has on small businesses.

Most small businesses do not have the resources to maintain a workforce of regular employees.

I know this for a fact since I’ve conducted training and seminars, which are attended by small businesses, either by the business owners themselves or their HR Managers. In these learning sessions, they often express their frustrations of being required to have regular employees when their businesses cannot afford to do so or the very nature of their work is client depended.

Of all the business case that was opened for discussion, one stood out as a good example and I remember to this date.

A business owner laments at the difficulty of having a regular employee in her business. What was the business and the position of the employee? It was a funeral parlor and the concerned employee was an embalmer. Inasmuch as she wants to generate business to pay for a regular employee, it is not like there is always a dead person in need of their services.

This is just one of many small businesses who face difficulties in trying or wanting to regularize their employees but cannot do so for financial reasons.

Why this is imporant to consider is that small businesses are one of the major employers next to the Government. If business laws and regulations are not tempered, these small businesses could end up closed. Who in the end will be at a loss? It will be those employees who will lose their livelihood.