The Philippines clarifies employee rights during heatwaves

Employees are entitled to prioritise personal safety in extreme heat, justifying abstention from work, but without regular pay entitlement.
By: | April 9, 2024

In the face of scorching temperatures, employees grapple with a crucial decision: report for duty and risk exposure to extreme heat or prioritise safety and abstain from work.

The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) of the Philippines clarified their stance on this matter, indicating that while employees have the option to abstain from work due to hazardous weather conditions, they would not receive payment for the day.

DOLE Advisory No, 17-2022, highlighted by Labour Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, emphasised the right of employees to prioritise personal safety when faced with extreme heat, likening it to other weather-related dangers like El Niño. Laguesma underscored that if reporting for duty poses any form of danger, whether imminent or actual, employees are justified in abstaining from work.

“(This is) not simply because of extreme heat but also due to unsafe and unhealthy conditions,” he pointed out.

Labour Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez further elucidated that the concept of imminent danger encompasses all unsafe conditions arising from both natural and human-induced disturbances, including weather phenomena such as El Niño.

However, while employees may exercise their right to abstain from work, the advisory clarifies that they are not entitled to regular pay for that day, unless specific circumstances, such as a favourable organisational policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement, or if the employee can utilise accrued leave credits.

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Laguesma urged employees to communicate their decisions with their employers to prevent any misunderstandings in the workplace.

In light of these directives, the House Committee on Labour and Employment, chaired by Fidel Nograles, a Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, urged employers to implement measures to safeguard their employees from heat-related stress. Nograles emphasised the importance of adhering to guidelines outlined in Labour Advisory No. 8 s. 2023, including ensuring adequate workplace ventilation and providing access to hydration, reported Philstar.