A night worker is one who performs no less than seven (7) consecutive hours of work within the period of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The law mandates health assessments, certain facilities and the protection of rights of night workers.
Who is a Night Worker?
Wipe that smirk off your face because we know what you are thinking. Sadly for you, a night worker is not who you think she is. Republic Act No. 10151, as implemented by DOLE Department Order No. 119-12 (DO 119-12) defines a night worker as any employed person whose work covers the period from 10 o’clock in the evening to 6 o’clock the following morning provided that the worker performs no less than seven (7) consecutive hours of work. So basically, this refers to someone who works the night shift or graveyard shift such as call center employees, your friendly 7-11 cashier and the like, including women (see our article Lifting the Ban on Night Work for Women).
Health Assessment for Night Workers
Again, remove that mischievous grin off your face. This pertains to a different health assessment. RA 10151 mandates that upon request of the night worker, they shall have the right to undergo a health assessment without charge and to receive advice on how to reduce or avoid health problems associated with their work:
- Before taking up an assignment as a night worker;
- At regular intervals during such an assignment;
- If they experience health problems during such an assignment.
With the exception of a finding of unfitness for night work, the findings of such assessments shall be confidential and shall not be used to their detriment, subject however to applicable company policies.
It is important to note that night workers who are certified by a competent physician, as unfit to render night work, due to health reasons, shall be transferred, whenever practicable, to a job for which they are fit to work or a similar or equivalent position. More importantly, this must be done in good faith and not as a means to punish an employee.
What if the transfer is not practicable? The law states that if this is not feasible or the employees are unable to render night work for a continuous period of not less than six (6) months upon the certification of a competent public health authority, these workers shall be granted the same company benefits as other workers who are unable to work due to illness. In addition, a night worker certified as temporarily unfit for night work for a period of less than six (6) months shall be given the same protection against dismissal or notice of dismissal as other workers who are prevented from working for health reasons.
Mandatory Facilities for Night Workers
Since working at night is fraught with risks, the law deemed it proper to mandate certain facilities that should be made available to night workers. DO 119-12 enumerates these facilities as follows:
- Suitable first aid and emergency facilities as provided for under Rule 1960 (Occupational Health Services) of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS);
- Lactation station in required companies pursuant to Republic Act No. 10028 (The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009);
- Separate toilet facilities for men and women;
- Facility for eating with potable drinking water; and
- facilities for transportation and/or properly ventilated temporary sleeping or resting quarters, separate for male and female workers, shall be provided except where any of the following circumstances is present:
- Where there is an existing company guideline, practice or policy, collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or any similar agreement between management and workers providing for an equivalent or superior benefit; or
- Where the start or end of the night work does not fall within 12 midnight to 5 o’clock in the morning; or
- Where the workplace is located in an area that is accessible twenty-four (24) hours to public transportation;
- Where the number of employees does not exceed a specified number as may be provided for by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in subsequent issuances.
Penalties for Violation of the Rights of Night Workers
At this point, we guess that you are not smiling now. Yes, there are penalties if you do not abide by the laws and rules protecting night workers. Violation of this Rule shall be punishable with a fine of not less than Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) nor more than Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than six (6) months or both, at the discretion of the court. The law certainly means business when it comes to the rights of night workers.
This, in a nutshell, is what you basically need to know when employing night workers. Remember, you can be imprisoned if you do not abide by the law!
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
If you need assistance in labor matters, we can help you. Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com.