Effective October 2016 the law, which applies only to citizens, increased the minimum wage from $3.25 to $3.50 per hour. There was no data available regarding the official estimate for the poverty income level. 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 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 regarding 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 had three labor inspectors responsible for enforcing minimum wage laws, regulations regarding working conditions of foreign employees, and safety standards and laws. The number of inspectors was not sufficient to enforce compliance. According to the law, employers are subject to a 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 include a range of monetary fines per violation and imprisonment, which were not sufficient to deter violations.
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. An Immigration and Labor Monitoring Task Force was established in during the year, which has resulted in the departure of workers due to overstay, working without permits, or unsolvable disagreements between employee and employer.
There were continuing reports of the mistreatment of foreign workers by their employers. 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, China, and Bangladesh.