BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-CAR) clarified various misconceptions on the real meaning of minimum wage which is reportedly being misinterpreted by various sectors in the region based on the results of the on-going consultations being done relative to the implementation of the new minimum wage in the region that took effect last August 20, 2018.
RTWPB-CAR board secretary Augusto Aquillo underscored that the real meaning of minimum wage is that it is the lowest wage rate paid to daily minimum wage earners as provided by the wage order that had been issued by the wage board.
However, Aquillo explained that minimum wage should not be understood as the actual rate to be paid to the workers because employers can give higher rates to their employees based on their job description, performance, educational attainment, level of position in the company among other considerations but the rates should not go lower than what had been prescribed under issued wage orders.
As observed and in order that there shall be no violation of the labor, the wage order included, the RTWPB-CAR official claimed that employers seem to understand that the minimum wage rates provided by any wage order issued by the board are the legal rates, and therefore, they are the exact amounts or wage rates they will pay their workers which should not be the case in the prevailing situation in the work places.
While it is correct that there shall be no violations of the law if the employers do the same, Aquillo argued that it bears employing that there shall be no violation whatsoever if they pay their workers with wage rates different from what are found in the existing wage order so long as the rates are higher or more than what are provided in the approved wage order.
In fact, he pointed out that having a higher wage rate compared to the approved minimum wage is beneficial to the workers because they are paid more, considering that what is strictly prohibited by the law is paying the workers lower or lesser than what are provided for by the approved wage order.
Aquillo emphasized that it is clear in the law that only the minimum wage earners are covered and the non-minimum wage earners, or those who are paid more are not covered.
According to him, there is also a chance for non-minimum wage earners to be entitled for an increase in their wages considering that the situation happens when in one company there are workers who are paid the minimum and others are paid more and that the said situation appears to be the usual case in all establishments, especially those categorized as micro- small and medium industries.
He explained that workers in the said industries receive different rates with some receiving the minimum and the others receiving more and even per company or establishment basis, the same is the reality as observed and that the reasons for the varying wage rates of workers are valid, just and reasonable.
He stated that the varying rates being given to workers are usually based on length of service, skill differences, education and other logical qualification standards set by the company.
If the same is the situation in one company, Aquillo asserted that it does not mean that only the minimum wage earners will receive the increase mandated by the new wage order considering that their co-workers who are receiving over and above the minimum wage will also be entitled to a decent increased based on the formula approved by the wage board to fix the wage distortion created by the new wage increase.
While the minimum wage law primarily aims to promote the welfare of the lowest paid workers, he pointed out that the law has no intention to let other workers suffer injustice every time a wage order is issued, thus, all the workers in a company having minimum wage earners will benefit from the wage order, the minimum wage earners receiving the full increase with those being paid more receiving the same amount or less depending upon the agreement between the employer and the workers to correct the unpleasant situation.
Once wage distortion happens in a company, Aquillo asserted that it is mandatory that the same will be settled by the company through the duly approved formula enshrined in the approved wage order.