Rules on security guard services
IN WHAT may be considered a sign of the times, private security guards are a ubiquitous presence in private and government offices, schools, commercial establishments and residential areas.
Some “sekyus” (as they are fondly called) follow a dress code, i.e., those posted at the entrance and exit doors wear the standard blue and white uniform, while those assigned inside the premises are in “barong tagalog” or civilian clothes to conceal their identity.
Based on the records of the licensing office of the Philippine National Police (PNP), there are approximately 500,000 licensed private security guards in the country and this does not include those hired directly as personal bodyguards.
Numbers-wise, they outnumber the 130,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP’s 160,000, more or less, police personnel.
To the security guards’ credit, the PNP considers them “force multipliers” in areas where it has limited personnel or unable to send mobile cars for regular patrols.
Although security guards put their lives and limbs on the line in the performance of their duties, they are, sadly, often underpaid and deprived of the benefits that private employees are entitled to under the law.
To promote the welfare of these unsung guardians of persons and properties, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently issued Department Order No. 150-16, Series of 2016, which spelled out the rules on employment and working conditions of security guards and other security personnel in the private security industry.
The rules state that security guards and other private security personnel assigned to a person or company (defined as “principal”) are considered employees of the security service contractor or private security agency (PSA).
When a service agreement is entered into between a PSA and a principal, the DOLE Regional Office concerned can order the parties to submit to it a copy of the agreement.
The agreement should contain, among others, provisions relating to the nature of the work to be done, its terms and conditions, and the basic equipment (at least one handgun) to be provided to the guards.
In addition, the PSA should make an undertaking to directly remit every month the employer’s share and employee’s contribution to the Social Security System, Employees Compensation Commission, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Home Development Mutual Fund.
The latter obligation is significant because, based on past records, many PSAs have been negligent in this area to the detriment of the security guards when they retire or are disabled.
A critical requirement in the agreement is an “automatic crediting provision,” which shall state that in case DOLE issues wage orders increasing the security guards’ wages and other wage-related benefits, the principal shall shoulder the increase and the agreements shall be deemed amended accordingly.
This means the burden of making upward adjustments in the guards’ wages pursuant to DOLE’s orders has to be assumed by the principal even if they are considered employees of the PSA, and not of the principal.
This requirement will do away with the present practice where PSAs are obliged to re-negotiate their agreements with their principals in case wage orders are issued without the assurance that the principal will agree to the wage adjustment.
Corollary to this responsibility, the rules provide that in case a PSA fails to pay the guards’ wages, the principal shall be considered their “indirect employer” and therefore shall become jointly and severally liable with the PSA in paying the wages to the extent of the work they have performed under the agreement.
And talking of wages, under the law, the guards, like all other private employees, are entitled to the minimum wage set by DOLE for the area where they perform their work.
The reality on the ground, however, is this requirement is more observed in breach by some PSAs through schemes like extending the guards’ working hours without overtime pay, treating Sundays and holidays as regular working days, or using less than fair factors in computing their wages.
To ensure uniform treatment in the computation of wages and other wage-related benefits, the rules spelled out the formulas that can be used to determine the guards’ equivalent monthly rates using their applicable daily rate.
The formulas take into consideration the number of days the guards are required to work in a year and whether or not they are considered paid or unpaid on Sundays, holidays and rest days.
These formulas are worth looking into by parties that want to enter into contract with PSAs because they will be helpful in determining whether the rates offered by PSAs in bidding for security contracts provide for the prescribed minimum wage and other employment benefits required by law.
It is common knowledge that some PSAs, in their desire to get security services contracts, offer very low bids at the expense of the guards’ compensation and the quality of the equipment used in the performance of their duties.
Although late in coming, these rules delineate the responsibilities of government regulatory agencies on the operations of PSAs.
While the PNP, through its Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies, is in charge with the licensing of security guards and related operational matters, the responsibility of seeing to it the employment relationship among the security guards, PSAs and principals comply with the law rests with DOLE.
The new rules on security guards should be carefully reviewed by people, companies and government offices that engage their services for their possible effects on their financial position and operations.
For comments, please send your e-mail to “[email protected]”.
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