DOLE Online Systems
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Best Practice Focus Area/s
Strategy, Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management, Operations
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Online Systems is a collection of digitalized services, particularly around the task of labor inspection (LI). Included among the Online Systems are (1) the Labor Inspection-Management Information System (LI-MIS), which allows for decision-making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization of information on labor laws compliance; (2) the Joint Monitoring System (JMS), which generates joint monitoring findings and critical details like rates in initial compliance and compliance after correction; and (3) the Establishment Reporting System (ERS), which streamlines the documents and reports required from establishments in the private sector.
Background and Problem
In 2009, DOLE, through the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), requested the International Labor Organization (ILO) for an audit of the Philippines’ LI processes. The findings and recommendations of the audit were then used by the Department to support the preparation of a performance improvement plan to reform, revitalize, and restructure the entire LI system.
One of the recommendations was to address the time required for labor inspectors to undertake a practical inspection by eliminating identified time wasters. According to 2020 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), DOLE had less than 200 labor inspectors against around 784,000 establishments. The disparity is significant, making it so that each workplace is inspected on average only once every 16 years. This low coverage and limited LI capacity of DOLE raises the need to reform and provide further support to LI in terms of policy, human resources, and technological intervention.
Establishments were still required to report to DOLE during the COVID-19 pandemic even though community quarantine travel restrictions and transportation limitations were in effect. This hastened the need for DOLE to provide contactless services, pushing them to create online platforms to submit several administrative documentary requirements mandated under the Labor Code and other relevant laws and standards. Pandemic conditions also brought about an urgent need for policy changes to ensure the safety and health of the public.
With the official declaration of a state of calamity through Proclamation No. 929, many establishments were forced to temporarily suspend operations or implement other work arrangements in compliance with government restrictions during community quarantine. This left many employers with no choice but to lay off workers or permanently close due to losses in income, creating an influx of requests and submissions to DOLE from more than 100,000 establishments, reporting and affecting over three million workers.
Solution and Impact
From these circumstances and their findings from the audit, DOLE updated and digitalized their services, particularly in LI. These Online Systems allow for more comprehensive and timely service delivery, allowing the Department to address the concerns about its own shortage of inspectors as well as the complications brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Labor Inspection-Management Information System (LI-MIS)
The LI-MIS is the information system now being used by DOLE for its decision-making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization of information on labor laws compliance. It is an online, web-based application that utilizes information technology to transmit and process real-time labor inspection data collected from the field using an electronic checklist. It further improved the collection and sharing of information, administrative transparency, and accountability. LI-MIS also consisted of a more proper, precise, and vast data coverage, improving the Department’s capacity for advisory and technical assistance on LI matters.
The development of the LI-MIS was also accompanied by a major reform agenda which shifted DOLE’s compliance monitoring policy from a purely regulatory model to a progressively developmental system to achieve a culture of voluntary compliance with labor laws and ensure expeditious and non-litigious settlement of disputes through settlement as a primary mode of disposing of labor cases. Before the policy shift, there had been no significant changes on labor standards compliance given the little coverage of inspection, low participation, and the need for advocacies and capacity building of stakeholders.
Additional labor inspection personnel were also requested to ensure broader coverage. This increased staffing complement, combined with revised job descriptions, labor inspector positions, upgraded training programs, and information campaigns, was essential in reaching substantial compliance to labor standards.
The Joint Monitoring System (JMS)
Before the JMS, the department relied on Google Forms to submit monitoring reports. But with the JMS in place, the department now has its own mechanism of generating joint monitoring findings and critical details like rates in initial compliance and compliance after correction. Regional implementers could now also create data and manage their performance. This allowed regional offices to provide data and better coordinate with other government regulating agencies in their jurisdiction.
Establishment Reporting System (ERS)
Lastly, the Establishment Reporting System (ERS) was created to streamline the documents and reports required from establishments in the private sector. Several administrative requirements will be submitted through this site as a central platform. Through this system, employers no longer need to physically submit establishment reports to DOLE since reportorial requirements can be completed remotely through the ERS. This ensured the safety of DOLE employees and minimized the risk of contracting the virus since the need for physical contact has been removed in this process.
In 2019, the Bureau of Working Conditions received a Special Citation for Best Practice for the LI-MIS program. Best practice was defined as a novel policy or program that improved operational processes or methods and contributed to achieving organizational goals. This recognition was under the Most Innovative Office Award during the 86th DOLE Foundation Anniversary.