Senate okays bill prohibiting age discrimination in work places

MANILA — Voting 14-0, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace.

The Senate Bill No. 29 is one of the 27 measures approved by the Senate before both houses of Congress will convene on May 24, as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) will canvass the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the May 9 elections.

Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 29, or the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 2016, said the measure prohibited employers from printing or publishing in any form of media, including the internet, any notice or advertisement suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications and discrimination based on age.

Cayetano noted that age discrimination was one of the biggest barriers to employment in the country and there is yet no law to prohibit it.

”There is none in our Labor Code; and until recently, it was not even on the policy radar screen of the Department of Labor and Employment,” Cayetano said.

“To be discriminated against due to a natural and unstoppable process of ageing is to impose another glass ceiling that is even more difficult to break than that of gender,” she added.

Under the bill, employers are prohibited from withholding the promotion of an employee or deny them from training opportunities, compensation and privileges merely on the basis of age.

The measure also seeks to ban employment agencies or recruitment centers from refusing to refer an individual for employment because of age and for a labor organization to deny membership or cause an employer to discriminate against a person because of his age.

Employers who violate the law face a fine from Php20,000 to Php200,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, the bill said.

Exceptions to the prohibitions under the measure are cases where age is an occupational qualification necessary for the normal operation of a particular business, or where the intention of the employer is to observe the terms of a seniority system, or the case is one of the exceptions under appropriate regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor.

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved on third and final reading a measure seeking imposition of stiffer penalties on any person found guilty of engaging in matching and offering Filipinos to foreign nationals for marriage or common law partnership for profit.

Senate Bill No. 3209, sponsored by Senator Pia Cayetano, seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 6955 or the Anti-Mail Order Bride Law of 1990 to bring the law “up to speed” to include Filipino men, spouses, common law partnerships, matching of Filipinos to foreign nationals and offering foreign nationals to Filipinos.

In her sponsorship speech, Cayetano said the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking indicated that no case has been prosecuted under Republic Act No. 6955 because the law is “out of date.”

Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said the proposed law sought to protect the individual rights of Filipinos, both men and women, since many are vulnerable to deceptive schemes where they become victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.

“We cannot deny the reality that many of our countrymen currently fall victim to exploitation and abuse in the guise of intermarriages, while many men and women still remain potential victims,” Cayetano said.

Under the proposed law, any person found guilty of committing the prohibited acts or cooperating in the execution of the prohibited acts would be imprisoned for 15 years and fined from Php500,000 to Php1 million.

If the prohibited act was committed by a syndicate or on a large scale, the offender would be imprisoned for 20 years and fined from Php2 million to Php5 million. PNA/