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Monday, December 4, 2023

‘Nearly half of private workers paid minimum wage or less’

A total of 2.29 million out of 13 million workers in the private sector receive below the minimum wage, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said, as she disclosed 3.82 million are also receiving just the minimum wage.

“This means 46.8 percent or almost half of all paid private sector workers are being paid below minimum or are minimum wage earners,”

Brosas disclosed during the House plenary debates on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Quezon Rep. David Suarez, who sponsored the Department of Labor and Employment’s budget, confirmed these figures.

“Those who claim exemptions from the minimum wage, most of them are enterprises that are just starting. Most of these are what we call micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). If we set the salaries at levels higher than they can afford, it could lead to these companies’ closure,” Suarez explained.

Still, Brosas appealed to Congress for a budget increase for labor inspectors under 2024 national budget.

The DOLE currently has 1,210 labor inspectors nationwide who completed the inspection of 23,420 private establishments within the first half of the year.

According to Suarez, 93.78 percent are compliant with labor laws and standards. But the number of inspected establishments is only less than a fourth of the total 102,000 businesses nationwide.

He urged DOLE to be more proactive in addressing labor salary issues.

“Don’t wait for directives from the (Labor) secretary. Be independent, be proactive enough to work on labor salary issues in your respective regions,” Suarez said.

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