Legal Heads Up

Workers' Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

If the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) determines that an imminent danger situation exists in the workplace that may result to death or illness, workers have to right to refuse work pursuant to R.A. 11058 (Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards). Imminent danger is defined as “a situation caused by a condition or practice in any place of employment that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm.”

Workers may report directly to the DOLE or other competent government agencies accidents, dangerous occurrences and hazards in the work place. As a preventive measure, Section 6 of D.O. 198-18 (Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 11058) grants the safety officer the discretion to implement work stoppage or suspension of operations in cases of imminent danger.

A Work Stoppage Order (WSO) shall be issued as soon as the imminent danger situation is confirmed to exist by the DOLE. Workers may validly refuse to work until the lifting of the WSO. The law affords protection to the safety officer and workers against retaliatory acts or reprisals.

Workers shall be entitled to their wages corresponding to the period of work stoppage or suspension if the imminent danger occurs as a result of the employer’s violation or fault. D.O. 198-18 includes a presumption that the employer is presumed a party at fault if the WSO was issued secondary to an imminent danger situation, which would imperil the lives of the workers.

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