DOLE to firms: Adopt cancer prevention, control policy in workplaces

By Ferdinand Patinio

September 19, 2023, 5:56 pm

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued guidelines on the adoption of cancer prevention and control in private establishments.

Labor Advisory No. 20-2023 signed by Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma mandates all private companies to adopt such a policy as provided under Republic Act (RA) 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act.

"Employers and their employees shall adopt a Cancer Prevention and Control in the Workplace Policy and Program that shall include, among others, the prevention, access to screening, diagnosis, and treatment, return to work, compensation, and social policies," said the advisory dated Sept. 15 and released Tuesday.

Section 18 of RA 11215 states that the department has to develop policies and provide technical guidance to employers and employees concerning cancer prevention and control.

Under the guidelines, the DOLE is expecting companies to adopt a promotion of a safe and healthy lifestyle, including the mental and social well-being of employees.

It said there should also be an adjustment and updating of the existing cancer policy and program subject to the information gathered from medical surveillance and examination of employees, especially those engaged in high-risk activities.

The firms must also conduct awareness campaigns on cancer and provision of health education and information to employees on self-breast examination, the ill effects of smoking and excessive alcohol drinking, and signs and symptoms and prevention of different forms of cancers.

Likewise, employers are expected to implement appropriate control measures (engineering, administrative, personal protective equipment) to avoid exposure of employees to cancer-causing chemicals, work processes and working conditions in the workplace.

The agency added companies must also facilitate the timely referral mechanisms for screening, diagnosis and treatment, including the provision of social and mental health services to different DOH Cancer Centers and other appropriate healthcare facilities.

Firms are also expected to implement measures to assist return to work and reintegration into the workplace of employees diagnosed with cancer.

The adoption of an employee-centric program variable monitoring, including attendance to awareness-raising efforts, employee availing of cancer prevention and control measures, such as pap smear and digital rectal examination, and number of employees being assisted for cancer-related treatment are also required.

The department also assured that all medical records of concerned employees shall be handled in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.

Companies are also ordered to provide assistance on the access of rehabilitation and compensation in the private sector through the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), whenever applicable.

It said there should be an implementation of measures to ensure prevention of stigma and discrimination against employees with cancer.

The DOLE added firms will be the ones to provide materials on the procedure of compensation claims as well as the expanded benefits provided by the ECC. (PNA)