Effective October 1, the law, which applies to citizens, increased the minimum wage from $3.25 to $3.50 per hour. The national minimum wage provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The law does not include informal-sector work, such as domestic work; some categories of agricultural work; NGO workers, foreign workers, employees who are students, and temporary or probationary work of students and youths younger than 21 years.
The law provides for overtime pay at the rate of time and one-half of the base salary for hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per workweek or work on holidays for government employees. The law establishes a standard workweek of 40 hours and paid holidays for government employees. The law prohibits excessive or compulsory overtime. The Bureau of Labor and Human Resources has established some regulations regarding conditions of employment for foreign workers, who are entitled to one day off per week, consisting of 10 continuous hours without working between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The bureau may inspect the conditions of the workplace and employer-provided housing on the specific complaint of an employee, but enforcement was inconsistent, and working conditions varied.
Although the law states that employers shall adopt reasonable and adequate occupational safety and health rules, no law protects workers who file complaints about hazardous conditions. Foreign workers may self-censor complaints due to fear they could lose their employment if they removed themselves from situations that endangered health or safety.
The Division of Labor, which had three labor inspectors, enforced minimum wage laws, regulations regarding working conditions of foreign employees, and safety standards and laws. According to the law, employers are subject to a $500 civil penalty for noncompliance with minimum wage requirements, in addition to the amount of taxes, social security contributions, and interest on unpaid wages. Penalties for other violations related to acceptable conditions of work range from $500 to $2,000 per violation and a maximum imprisonment of six months, which were not sufficient to deter violations. There were no reports of violations of occupational health or safety standards.
In addition to their wages, foreign workers usually received basic accommodations and food gratis or at nominal cost. The minimum wage law stipulates that these costs are deductible from wages paid. Wages for domestic helpers employed in private households generally were lower than the minimum wage. The country continued to attract foreign workers from the Philippines, China, Bangladesh, the Republic of Korea, and Japan. There were an estimated 7,000 foreign nationals with work permits in the country; approximately 70 percent were from the Philippines, 10 percent from China, and 10 percent from Bangladesh.
Reports of mistreatment of foreign workers by their employers continued. The foreign workers most likely to be abused were those who worked under contracts as domestic helpers, farmers, waitresses, cashiers, beauticians, hostesses in karaoke bars and massage parlors, construction workers, and other semiskilled workers, the majority of whom were from the Philippines and China.