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How The Philippine Labor Code Protects Against Workplace Discrimination

How The Philippine Labor Code Protects Against Workplace Discrimination

Today’s ideal workplace gives equal opportunities to all. In fact, a JobStreet global survey done with the Boston Consulting Group and The Network confirms this. According to the report’s global survey, more than 68% of jobseekers value inclusivity in their workplace. Meanwhile, over 50% would refuse companies that do not practice diversity.

To attract top talents, it is vital to take a stand on social issues. A way to do this is to learn how to avoid discrimination in the workplace.

Aside from giving your company a bad name, acts of discrimination are against laws like the Philippine Labor Code. Litigation costs time and money, and affects company morale. Furthermore, you are able to motivate your team when you give them a safe space.

To keep your company free from discrimination, read our tips below. We also included examples of Philippine companies that practice an anti-discriminatory corporate culture--plus five practical tips that you can follow! 

Understanding the Philippine Labor Code

The Labor Code of the Philippines can guide you in cultivating a fair work culture. Generally, the code protects all employees against discrimination on the following:

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Marital and pregnancy status

  • Solo parent status

  • Disability including mental health conditions

  • Ethnicity

  • Having diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, cancer

  • Union membership

Under this code, you are tasked to create policies that prevent and punish discrimination in your company.

Gender Discrimination

The Philippine law ensures that Filipino women have rights in and outside their workplace. Republic Act 9710: Magna Carta of Women

The Magna Carta of Women (MCW) defines discrimination against women as “any gender-based distinction, exclusion, or restriction which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.”

As the mother of pro-women laws, the MCW requires the government to reexamine, change or terminate present laws that are unfair to women. The MCW entitles female employees to the following:

  • 50% of third-level government positions

  • At least 40% of government positions on development planning and program implementation

  • 2 months’ worth of leave benefits with full pay for those who require surgery due to gynecological issues

  • Employment in the military, police and other fields. Women must have the same privileges and opportunities as their male counterparts

Republic Act 6725: Prohibition on Discrimination Against Women Specifically, this law focuses on women’s rights to fair employment. This prevents companies from hiring on the basis of gender. Discrimination also involves promoting and giving opportunities to employees because of their sex.

Republic Act 11210: Expanded Maternity Leave Signed in 2019, this law increased the paid maternity leave from 60 to 105 days. Solo mothers have an additional 15 days of paid maternity leave. Meanwhile, female employees can extend their leave for an additional 30 days without pay.

Republic Act 7877: Anti-Sexual Harassment Act This protects women from sexual harassment in the workplace and other places like schools and training facilities. Under this law, women are protected from sexual favors in exchange for employment or benefits. They have the right to refuse sexual favors without it affecting their employment status.

Business Inspiration Companies like Ayala Land, the Magsaysay Group of Companies, and Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. have received EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certificates. EDGE is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equity. It measures the companies’ representation, pay equity, effectiveness of policies and inclusive culture.

Age Discrimination

Age plays a huge role in company positions. Typically, experienced and older employees have higher positions. In contrast, fresh graduates are given entry-level positions so they can first learn work basics.

Examples of age discrimination Be wary of prejudices on age and productivity. These include:

  • Against older jobseekers

Though senior jobseekers have the experience businesses need, their staying power as employees may be questioned. Assumptions include their decreased health and energy, and inability to learn new skills.

  • Against younger jobseekers

Some hirers think young employees lack commitment. But this is a bias that can keep your business from getting new perspectives. Though fresh graduates lack experience, they make up for it with their eagerness.

Republic Act 10911: Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment This law, which took in effect in 2017, prohibits age-based discrimination among workers regardless of their employment status.

Under this law, employers are banned from:

  • Hiring on the basis of age. This includes publishing job ads that include age preference and limitations.

  • Unfair treatment of employees of a certain age in terms of pay, benefits, and other opportunities

  • Requiring jobseekers to state their age or birth date during the hiring process

  • Turning down applicants because of their age

  • Dismissing an employee because of age

  • Forcing early retirement. Under the Labor Code, compulsory retirement age is 65 years. However, younger employees are allowed to retire if it is voluntary, and part of a collective bargaining agreement or contract.

Punishment for Violators If you break this law, you can be reported to the Department of Labor and Employment. DOLE will then assist aggrieved parties in filing cases. Offenders will be fined ₱50,000 to ₱500,000, or imprisoned for 3 months to 2 years, or both, at the court’s discretion. If the violation was done by a corporation, trust, firm partnership or association, the guilty officer or officers will take the penalty.

Business Inspiration In 2019, McDonald’s signed an agreement with the Pasay City government to hire senior citizens or those aged 65 and above. In 2020, KFC and Tokyo Tokyo restaurants as well Puregold supermarket partnered with the Manila City government to recruit senior citizens.

Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

Like women, the law protects PWDs from discrimination. It defines PWDs as “those suffering from restriction of different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.” 

Republic Act 7277: Magna Carta for Disabled Persons Taking effect in 1992, this ensures that PWDs have the same employment opportunities as others. This lets them take their place in a productive society.

This law mandates PWDs to have access to the following:

  • Suitable employment, and equal pay, privileges and opportunities

  • 5% of positions in the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health, Education, Culture and Sports, and other government bodies engaged in social developments

  • Sheltered employment and apprenticeship

  • Employment services like job fairs, coaching and career counseling

  • Paid leaves such as Maternity, Paternity, Solo Parent, the Violence Against Women and their Children, and the Special Leave for Women

  • Coverage by the Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG

Incentives for Employers that Hire PWDs To encourage employment of PWDs, the government gives these benefits to companies that hire them:

1) Being entitled to an additional deduction from their gross income, equivalent to 25% of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to PWDs

2) If you improved or changed your facilities to accommodate PWDs, you can avail of an additional deduction from your net taxable income. This is equivalent to 50% of the direct costs of the improvements you made. However, take note that this does not apply to modifications required under law. These include wheelchair ramps, sidewalks and railings.

Punishment for Violators

  • First violation – a fine of ₱50,000 to ₱100,000 or imprisonment of 6 months to 2 years, or both, at the court’s discretion.

  • Subsequent violation – a fine of ₱100,000 to ₱200,000, or imprisonment of 2 to 6 years, or both, at the court’s discretion.

Business Inspiration In 2019, Southstar Drug launched its PWD hiring program. As a result, the company has welcomed 24 employees in their branches and main office. Like other employees, they were hired on a probationary status with a chance to be regularized later on. Meanwhile, the Fruitas Group of Companies has been employing deaf frontliners for their stores since 2010.

Discrimination Against the LGBTI Community

The United Nations Refugee Agency uses LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) as the general term for diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. People from the LGBTI community face discrimination in their daily lives because they do not conform to society’s gender norms.

Proof of this are the results from the Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity and Inclusiveness (CSDI) Index, which surveyed 100 companies in 2018. The study found that none of the companies enforced policies that fought discrimination based on SOGIE (Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression). The survey included a research paper that found 24% of respondents experiencing harassment from employers or senior officers, while 33% were harassed by co-workers.

Senate Bill 689: SOGIE Equality Bill Originally filed in 2000, the bill echoes the 1987 Constution’s call to protect the right of all Filipinos to equal protection. Recognizing the members of the LGBTI community as equals means that they deserve the same rights and respect as everyone else. Those who engage in discriminatory acts will be penalized.

However, after more than two decades, the SOGIE Bill has yet to be passed. In the meantime, local governments specifically in Manila and Quezon City have signed their own ordinances that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQI. 

So far, the SOGIE Bill was sponsored for the second time at the senate last December 2020. It was revised as Senate Bill 1934: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill.

Business Inspiration According to the Shell Philippines website, the company firmly supports the LGBT community. Its parent company is a member of Workplace Pride, an Amsterdam-based foundation that works for the stronger acceptance of LGBT people at work and in society. Shell also conducts awareness training on sexual orientation among employees.

Accenture Philippines is also a proud LGBTI pride supporter. It aims to provide a culture of equality with a top-to-bottom approach. This means that the commitment begins with its executive officers to ensure fair employment practices.

5 Tips for a Discrimination-Free Workplace

So, how can you avoid discrimination in the workplace? It all starts with you, the employer. By having the conviction that inclusion is not a business add-on but a necessity, you set standards for a diverse work culture. 

1. Carefully compose your questions during hiring. During a job interview, never ask for the applicant’s age or birthdate. Instead, focus on their skills and qualifications. A blunt question like “Do you have a disability?” is not only improper; it can also land you in legal trouble. Instead, let the jobseeker know the job’s specific demands, and ask if they can deliver on all points. 

2. Write the right job ads. Your job ad is your company’s intro to the jobseeker. So, make sure it is respectful and is in no way discriminatory. You leave a first good impression on potential employees when you use inclusive language. Read also: How To Create Winning Job Posts: 6 Dos And Don’ts – With Samples!

3. Craft clear company policies. To make sure everyone is on the same page, draft a code of conduct to protect your employee’s rights. Gather data and track your company’s progress on your equity practices. This will tell you the areas for improvement, and other disparity issues you can address.

4. Conduct sensitivity trainings, Show employees how much you value diversity and inclusion by sending them to sensitivity workshops. Include sensitivity training in your onboarding process, and schedule refresher courses for current staff on anti-discrimination policies.

5. Be open to diversity. Diverse workplaces are often creative and dynamic. Because employees have different backgrounds, they can all offer fresh perspectives. This makes your company grow.

In the long run, your business will benefit from your open attitude. With satisfied employees and a wellspring of ideas, your company has no way to go but up!

Find the right people for the #JobsthatMatter through our Talent Search, one of Southeast Asia’s largest talent databases. Visit our Employer Insights Page for industry news, insights and advice.

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