With the peak season in December, we call on companies to respect the well-being and rights of Filipino workers across the country, particularly those in the retail industry. It has come to our knowledge that a number of companies, particularly malls that are anticipating heightened activities during this Christmas period, have been compelling workers to render overtime. In some cases, failure to comply has resulted in dismissal and disciplinary actions against personnel.
Overtime work is considered a voluntary act under the Philippine Labor Code, and an employee cannot be forced to work beyond regular working hours without their consent. Employees are also entitled to overtime compensation, which is normally 25 percent of their hourly rate, for labor completed outside of regular working hours. If the overtime is conducted on a holiday or rest day, the remuneration might be increased to 30 percent.
In some situations, however, the law allows compulsory overtime. This can happen in situations where immediate or necessary work is required, such as in the case of an emergency, imminent loss, or when the workforce is required to prevent major serious obstruction or prejudice to the business operations. Nevertheless, the conditions for compulsory overtime must be fair and reasonable. More importantly, companies must recognize that employees have the right to reasonable working hours and rest periods.
While we recognize the operational challenges that busy seasons present, we strongly warn firms to avoid mandating forced overtime labor since it clearly infringes specific labor rights. At the same time, we urge employers to cease the practice of “OTTY,” or “Overtime Thank You,” in which employees are forced to work over eight hours without adequate remuneration.
Worse, the current minimum wage and the prevailing piece-rate system in many companies are forcing workers to work longer hours at the expense of their own health and well-being. This situation highlights the urgent need for an increase in the minimum wage.
Thus, we urge the Marcos administration to implement a substantial wage increase to ensure a dignified standard of living, and safeguard the rights of the Filipino labor force.