DOLE issues rules on enforcing ‘safe spaces’ for informal workers

Published by rudy Date posted on December 23, 2021

By Ferdinand Patinio, 23 Dec 2021

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday issued guidelines that aim to protect informal sector workers, including kasambahays (house helpers), under Republic Act (RA) 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued Department Order 230 series of 2021, which provides mechanisms and interventions, including redress mechanisms, in cases of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace, for those involved in the informal economy, and those employed in establishments with 10 or fewer employees.

The order defines Gender-Based Sexual Harassment (GBSH) as specific acts penalized by RA 11313, which may be committed either on the street or public spaces; online; workplace; and educational and training institutions.

Under the law, the GBSH refers to unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive for committing such actions or remarks.

At the same time, the DOLE mandates employers of informal sector workers to orient all workers in the establishments and households on the Safe Spaces Act, to ensure full compliance with the law.

Employers or other persons of authority, influence, or moral ascendancy in the establishment are also mandated to prevent, deter, or punish the commission of acts of GBSH in the workplace.

As part of their occupational safety and health program, establishments are required to formulate their GBSH code of conduct or workplace policy.

Informal economy refers to all economic activities by workers and economic units that are in law or practice not covered or insufficiently covered by formal arrangements.

Bello added that to ensure employers’ compliance with the law and Department Order 230, the DOLE shall conduct yearly spontaneous, random, and unannounced inspections under existing rules and regulations.

“We enjoin everyone to report to DOLE non-compliance or violations of employers to these rules,” Bello said.

Complaints can be filed at attached agencies and regional, provincial, field, or satellite offices of the department that are nearest to the employees’ workplace, residence, or place where the alleged violation was committed. (PNA)

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