a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law provides for the right of all persons to join and organize labor unions and to bargain collectively; no laws regulate trade union organization. The law neither provides for nor prohibits the right to strike, and the government has not addressed this issue. There is no law barring antiunion discrimination.
There were no active labor unions or other employee organizations. Most businesses were small-scale, family-run enterprises employing relatives and friends.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. Penalties for forced labor offenses include imprisonment, fines, or both. The Office of the Attorney General, the Bureau of Public Safety, and the Bureau of Labor and Human Resources (all within the Ministry of Justice) are responsible for enforcing the law. The government did not effectively enforce the law.
Abuses most commonly reported included misrepresentation of contract terms and conditions of employment, withholding of pay or benefits, and substandard food and housing. Victims of these abuses were typically migrant workers from the Philippines and Bangladesh working in construction and domestic service. There were also complaints of physical abuse.
Also see also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits all the worst forms of child labor. The minimum age of employment for citizens is 16, and the minimum age for noncitizens is 21, excluding entertainers applying for temporary identification certificates. The law requires the government to protect children from exploitation. The Office of Labor Compliance is responsible for enforcing child labor laws and regulations. The government effectively enforced the law, and the penalties were commensurate with those for analogous serious crimes, such as kidnapping. There were no reports of children who worked in the formal economy, but some assisted their families with fishing, agriculture, and small-scale family enterprises. There were no confirmed reports during the year of the worst forms of child labor.
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The constitution prohibits discrimination with respect to employment or occupation based on race, sex, marital status, place of origin, religion, disabilities, or political grounds. The law protects women from job discrimination and provides for equal pay for equal work. The Office of Labor Compliance and the Bureau of Human Resources promoted workplace gender equality. The law does not prohibit discrimination with respect to employment or occupation based on sexual orientation or gender identity, HIV or other communicable disease status, or refugee or statelessness status. No formal or documented reports of employment discrimination were reported, but if there is discrimination with regards to unfulfilled contractual terms of employment, an employee may go to the Office of Labor Compliance or Bureau of Human Resources for assistance.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a minimum wage for both government and private-sector employment which was above the poverty income level.
The minimum wage does not apply to workers in the informal sector, including, for example, domestic service and some categories of agricultural labor. It also does not apply to employees who are students or to temporary or probationary work by students and persons younger than 21.
The workweek for public employees is 40 hours a week. For private sector employees it depended on the terms of the contract; the legal minimum time off is one day per week. Foreign workers in the private sector were entitled to one day off per week, consisting, however, only of 10 continuous hours without work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Occupational Safety and Health: The law states that employers shall adopt reasonable and adequate occupational safety and health (OSH) rules; it does not set safety and health standards. No law protects workers who file complaints about hazardous conditions. Foreign workers may self-censor complaints due to fear they could lose their job if they removed themselves from situations that endangered health or safety.
There were no reports of significant industrial accidents.
Wage, Hour, and OSH Enforcement: The Office of Labor Compliance had eight labor officers/inspectors responsible for enforcing minimum wage laws, regulations regarding working conditions of foreign employees, and safety standards. The government did not effectively enforce the law.
Penalties for violations of wage laws and violations of OSH rules were commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud and negligence. Penalties include a range of fines per violation and imprisonment but were rarely applied against violators. For noncompliance with minimum wage requirements, employers are subject to a civil penalty for noncompliance in addition to the amount of taxes, social security contributions, and interest on unpaid wages.
Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections of workplaces and employer-provided housing. They may initiate sanctions, but the number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance and penalties were rarely applied against violators.
There were continued reports of the mistreatment of foreign workers by employers. Noncitizens, approximately one-third of the overall population, were especially at risk of labor abuses. Inspections may be based on the specific complaint of an employee. Migrant workers most likely to be abused included domestic helpers, farmers, waitresses, cashiers, beauticians, hostesses in karaoke bars and massage parlors, and construction and other semiskilled workers, the majority of whom were from the Philippines and Bangladesh. Local workers were largely employed in the government sector, while migrant workers worked in the private sector, mainly in tourism.
Informal Sector: Informal sector workers were not protected under the law. The informal sector included self-employment jobs such as cleaners, caterers, tour guides, local jewelry makers, painters, and recyclers.