BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting the practice of employers in keeping or retaining possession of the original copies of their employees personal documents.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Elaine D. Sembrano stated that it shall be unlawful for employers in keeping or retaining possession of their employees original documents during the existence of an employee-employer relationship, such as, but not limited to, mayor’s working permit, health certificate, transcript of school records including diploma, barangay clearance, police clearance, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, community tax certificate, birth certificate, certificate of employment, training certificates, among others.
The ordinance stipulated photo copies of the employees original documents shall be sufficient to be retained by the employer and the original documents must be returned immediately to the concerned employees after their validation.
Under the proposed ordinance, employers found violating pertinent provisions shall be penalized by a fine of P3,000 for the first offense, a fine of P4,000 for the second offense and a fine of P5,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Section 18, Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides as a State policy that it affirms labor as a primary social economic force and it shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.
The ordinance claimed that some employers require the retention of their employee’s original copies of their personal documents as a company policy for safekeeping or some unjustifiable reasons.
According to the proposal, acquisition of the aforesaid documents are costly on the part of the employee and that there are instances when employers retain the original documents of employees to prevent them from leaving their employment without permission.
To surrender an employees original documents can be interpreted as giving up of the right to freedom, thus, the ordinance stated that all the original documents must be in the possession of the person to whom they were issued.
While the national government afford protection to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the ordinance added that it is but proper that the local employees should also be given the appropriate protection from abusive employers.
The ordinance claimed that most of the time, erring employers use the retained documents of their employees to compel them to stay in their present jobs even if the employees were able to find better paying jobs that is why most of the time, they tend to lose the opportunity of having gainful employment because their original documents are allegedly withheld by their existing employers.
The ordinance explained withholding the original documents of employees by their employers deprive them of their chance to work in other jobs that could pay them such more than their existing jobs that is why they remain in their current low paying jobs for threat of being charged among others if they insist in leaving their present employment.
By Dexter A. See