This year’s Labor Day is an opportunity for us to honor the great effort we all put in to persevere through this pandemic. We tip our hats to the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve on the frontlines of COVID-19, and to all the workers who, despite many limitations, continue to work hard and provide for their families.

Much has already been won by the labor movement in the Philippines, but the struggle ensues. For each law passed to protect our workers, dozens of other bills are put aside with the hopes that they too will be addressed. Today, we want to share examples of some of the great strides we have taken for the Philippine Labor Force these last few years:

Telecommuting Act

In July 2018, the Philippine government passed a law, empowering private companies to voluntarily offer a telecommuting program to their employees. 

Republic Act No. 11165, otherwise known as the Telecommuting Act, allowed for flexible work arrangements, giving us a chance to work from an alternative workplace using office-provided computer technologies.

Who would have thought that this legal framework would be a highlight in 2020? Working from home has become the new normal for many employees, and flexible arrangements have proven to be vital this past year. 

Innovative Startup Law

In 2019, the Philippines became one of the few countries to recognize innovative startups as a legitimate industry that needs investment through national legislation. This law aims to harness Filipino ingenuity to create innovative businesses that could respond to the ever-growing and fast-changing technological landscape.

The Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Information and Communications Technology, are continuing to take in new businesses and provide government support to develop innovative businesses with the hope of finding the first Filipino “unicorn”. 

As the global pandemic continues to reshape the future of work, the Innovative Startup provides an alternative for Filipinos to contribute to society with the use of exciting technology while also generating new jobs. 

Expansion of Maternity Leave 

After a long struggle in the legislative mill, the Philippines passed a law in 2019 to increase the paid maternity leave from 60 days to 105 days. Prior to the passage of this law, the Philippines had one of the shortest maternity leaves in the world. With the new legislation, statutory maternity leave is extended, with a provision of additional 15 days for single mothers. This is definitely a step forward in ensuring the rights of female workers in the Philippines and their children are protected. 

The plight of the Filipino workers has not been sidelined by this global pandemic, in fact, it has become more pronounced as we see all that needs to be done to improve the lives of those working blue-collar jobs. The injustices continue to persist, but we, as Filipino workers, must continue to fight for our rights. 

After all, labor is not just about working, but about what we’re working towards—a better life for ourselves, our families, and our beloved nation.