ILAB – International Labor Affairs Bureau – Purpose, Functions, and Responsibilities

The International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) was established on October 10, 1947, during President Harry S. Truman’s administration, under the command of Lewis B. Schwellenbach, to formally institutionalize the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) international directives.

Since its inception, the ILAB has aided in the passage of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, assisted in the admission of the United States of America to the International Labor Organization (ILO), and administered the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), a section of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that dealt with trade relations and required the establishment of a department in each member state to provide information about labor conditions in that country.

International Labor Affairs Bureau philippines

What is ILAB and its Purpose?

ILAB is the DOLE agency in charge of developing international labor and employment policies, plans, programs, projects, and operating standards, as well as monitoring the country’s adherence to and implementation of its obligations/commitments, courtesies, and facilities required by international organizations (IOs). It advises the Secretary’s office on the supervision, monitoring, and reporting of operations/activities of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and Filipino Resource Centers (FRCs) in various locations throughout the world.

ILAB, as the Department of Labor and Employment’s global link, gives you the most up-to-date news and information from POLOs and international organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among others.

What are the Benefits?

ILAB helps to protect the rights of Filipino workers (OFWs) in other countries. ILAB also works to improve the working conditions of OFWs, boost living standards, safeguard their rights, and address workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

Legal Framework

The International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) was created by virtue of the DOLE Rationalization Plan which was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on 13 April 2009 pursuant to Executive Order 366 also known as the Government Rationalization Program. ILAB was formerly the International Labor Affairs Service (ILAS).

Mandate

ILAB is primarily responsible for developing policy and program recommendations and operating standards relative to international labor and employment concerns; and for monitoring the country’s observance and implementation of its obligations/commitments, courtesies, and facilities required by international organizations.

It is also responsible for providing advisory service to the Office of the Secretary in the supervision, monitoring and reporting of operations/activities of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the Migrant Workers and Other Filipino Resource Centers (MWOFRCs) in different parts of the world.

Vision

ILAB’s vision is to provide relevant policy and program to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers.

“A dynamic international labor policy and program development institution at the vanguard of providing relevant policy and program recommendations to the Department of Labor and Employment that enable its overseas labor operation offices to protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers and secure for them the benefits of international labor migration.”

Mission

ILAB’s mission for the coming years is to contribute protection rights to the overseas Filipino Workers.

“Contribute to the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers and their enjoyment of the benefits of international labor migration by developing relevant policy and program recommendations on international labor affairs, and providing efficient technical and administrative support to POLOs and MWOFRCs.”

International Labor Affairs Bureau ILAB logo
International Labor Affairs Bureau ILAB logo

ILAB Functions and Responsibilities

The Bureau is made up of the Office of the Director and four divisions: International Relations and Cooperation, Asian and Pacific Labor Affairs, American and European Labor Affairs, and Middle Eastern and African Labor Affairs.

Office of the Director (OD)

  • Directs, supervises, and directs the Bureau’s everyday operations in order to achieve its mission;
  • Assists in the development of policy suggestions, guidelines, and necessary regulations pertaining to the Bureau’s mandate, functions, and responsibilities; and
  • Carries out any other duties that may be prescribed by law or assigned by the Secretary.

1. International Relations and Cooperation Division (IRCD)

  • Maintains databases on the conventions and standards of the ILO and other international multilateral organizations/labor-related UN organizations, as well as profiles of partner organizations.
  • Monitors and prepares reports on the Philippines’ compliance with ILO and other international multilateral organizations/UN organizations dealing with labor issues.
  • Participates in the annual ILC and other international multilateral meetings/seminars on behalf of the Philippine/DOLE delegation.
  • Prepares technical papers and reports related to DOLE’s participation in the activities of the ILO, IMO, IOM, and other international multilateral organizations/UN organizations dealing with labor issues.
  • Provides technical and administrative support to visiting officials from the ILO and other international multilateral organizations/UN organizations working in the field of labor in the Philippines.
  • Performs secretarial support for international organizations with unique interests, as well as other duties as required by law or as delegated by the Secretary.

2. Asian and Pacific Labor Affairs Division (APLAD)

  • Assists visiting labor officials and dignitaries from Asia and the Pacific with technical and administrative issues.
  • Creates and implements training programs for labor attachés and their employees throughout Asia and the Pacific.
  • Maintains a database on regional and bilateral agreements, as well as the operations of POLOs and FRCs throughout Asia and the Pacific.
  • Prepares technical papers and reports for the DOLE’s participation in regional and bilateral agreements with countries such as ASEAN, APEC, APO, and others (JCM, JCBC, JLC and related arrangements).
  • Provides administrative support to the Philippine delegation in regional and bilateral events in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other relevant operations.
  • Provides technical and administrative assistance in the supervision, monitoring, and assessment of POLO and FRC activities in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Performs secretarial support for particular problems of regional organizations in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other duties as assigned by the Secretary or as provided by law.

3. American and European Labor Affairs Division (AELAD)

  • Assists visiting labor leaders and dignitaries from the Americas and Europe with technical and administrative issues.
  • Creates and implements training programs for labor attachés and their employees across the Americas and Europe.
  • Maintains databases on regional and bilateral agreements, as well as the activities of POLOs and FRCs in the Americas and Europe.
  • Prepares technical papers and reports for the Department of Labor’s participation in regional and bilateral agreements with nations such as ASEM, OECD, EU, and others.
  • Provides administrative support to the Philippine delegation at regional/bilateral meetings and other activities in the Americas and Europe attended by DOLE.
  • Supports the supervision, monitoring, and evaluation of POLO and FRC operations across the Americas and Europe with technical and administrative assistance.
  • Performs secretarial support for special problems of regional organizations in the Americas and Europe, as well as other duties as assigned by the Secretary or as provided by law.

4. Middle Eastern and African Labor Affairs Division (MEALAD)

  • Develops and implements training programs for the Middle East and Africa’s labor attaché corps and staff.
  • Maintains databases on regional and bilateral agreements, as well as the Middle East and African operations of POLOs and FRCs.
  • Prepares technical papers and reports for the DOLE’s participation in regional and bilateral agreements with countries such as the GCC, NAM, and others (JCM, JCBC and related arrangements).
  • Provides administrative support to the Philippine delegation in regional and bilateral events in the Middle East and Africa, as well as other related operations.
  • Provides technical and administrative support to visiting Middle East and African labor authorities and dignitaries.
  • Provides technical and administrative support to the POLOs and FRCs in the Middle East and Africa in terms of supervision, monitoring, and assessment.
  • Performs secretarial support for regional organizations with unique issues in the Middle East and Africa, as well as other duties as may be required by law or assigned by the Secretary.

ILAB Related Agencies

Below is a list of agencies and organizations connected to ILAB:

List of ILAB Programs and Services

General Administration and Management Services

  • Assisting ILAB with capacity building and employee development.
  • Assisting with administrative and financial tasks.
  • Planning and programming services are provided.
  • Providing assistance with office care and maintenance.

Managing Information Services

  •  Creating an information system for foreign labor operations (FLOIS).
  • External communication and media relations coordination.
  • Keeping the ILAB and POLO websites up to date.
  • Maintaining databases on major ILAB programs / activities.

Policy Development and Advocacy on International Labor Relations and Cooperation Services

  • Coordinating / facilitating participation of the Philippines / DOLE in international conferences, meetings, dialogues, seminars, workshops, short-term training, study visits, tours, and missions.
  • Facilitating foreign labor leaders’ and dignitaries’ visits, as well as organizing / hosting international events / fora to improve labor relations and cooperation.
  • Facilitating the creation of bilateral labor agreements (BLAs) and other forms of labor collaboration.
  • Monitoring compliance with signed conventions and other international agreements relating to labor and migrant workers in the Philippines.
  • Providing technical assistance in the production of a Philippine / DOLE position paper / statement in accordance with membership responsibilities / commitments in international / regional bodies (i.e. UN, ILO, IMO, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, APO, OECD, etc.).

Technical Support Services to the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the Migrant Workers Overseas and Other Filipino Resource Centers (MWOFRCs)

  • Establishing standard operating procedures and guidelines for POLOs and MWOFRCs.
  • Evaluating the performance of POLOs.
  • Supporting POLOs and MWOFRCs with their financial and administrative needs.
  • Supporting the POLOs in their capacity-building efforts.

Video: ILAB Guide to Programs and Services

If you want to learn more, go to the Department of Labor and Employment-IPS YouTube Channel and search for International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB). Check out this video clip which features the existing programs of ILAB for Filipinos:

If you want to learn more about labor standards, go visit the DOLE Labor and Employment Education Services YouTube channel and check out this video:

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB):

1. What is ILAB?

The International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) is a bureau of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the Philippines. It is responsible for international labor relations and cooperation, as well as foreign labor operations. ILAB also provides technical support to the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the Migrant Workers Overseas and Other Filipino Resource Centers (MWOFRCs).

2. What are the benefits of ILAB?

ILAB helps to protect the rights of Filipino workers (OFWs) in other countries. ILAB also works to improve the working conditions of OFWs, boost living standards, safeguard their rights, and address workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

3. Is there a connection between OWWA and ILAB?

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) are both attached agencies of the DOLE that is part of the newly created department.

4. Is ILAB authorized by DOLE?

Yes, it is authorized as ILAB and DOLE work hand in hand. DOLE is for Philippine Labor policies while ILAB is the agency tasked by DOLE to handle international labor policies.

Summary

The International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) is the agency within the Department of Labor and Employment that is responsible for developing international labor policies, plans, and programs. ILAB also monitors the country’s adherence to its international obligations and commitments, as well as working to improve the conditions of Filipino workers overseas.

ILAB, as the Department of Labor and Employment’s global link, gives you the most up-to-date news and information from POLOs and international organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among others.

We hope that this guide has helped you understand better what are the roles and functions of ILAB.

Contact Information

International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)
Address: DOLE Building Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila
Website: ilab.dole.gov.ph, https://ilabweb-paas.azurewebsites.net/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dole.ilab

Google Map Location

Please see the map guide the DOLE Building where you can inquire about ILAB programs:

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