Thursday, February 11, 2016

House approves Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill seeking to prohibit and penalize the discrimination against any individual in employment on account of age.

Approved by the House is House Bill 6418 or the proposed "Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act," which provides that the State shall promote equal opportunities in employment for everyone, hence its policy shall be to promote employment of individuals on the basis of their abilities, knowledge, skills and qualifications rather their age.

The State shall also prohibit arbitrary age limitations in employment and promote the rights of all employees and workers, regardless of age, to be treated equally in terms of compensation, benefits, promotion, training and other employment opportunities.

The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House committee on labor and employment chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles. It substituted House Bill 5698 authored by Deputy Speaker and Nueva Vizcaya Lone District Rep. Carlos M. Padilla; HB 411 by Rep. Susan A. Yap (2nd District, Tarlac); HB 268 by Rep. Eric L. Olivarez (1st District, ParaƱaque City); HBs 1753 and 2280 by Rep. Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City); HB 502 by Rep. Rodolfo G. Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City); HB 2416 by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte); HB 3139 by Gabriela Party-list Reps. Emmi A. De Jesus and Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Bayan Muna Party-list Reps. Neri J. Colmenares and Isagani T. Zarate, Rep. Terry L. Ridon (Party-list, Kabataan), and Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (Party-list, ACT); HB 3281 by Reps. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list ABAMIN); and HB 5723 by Rep. Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur).

Padilla said in these times of global recession, a number of Filipinos have lost their jobs, while many employers have limited the work hours of their employees and reduced their take- home pay.

Padilla said unemployment rate has gone up, especially as fresh graduates continue to join the labor force. Because of this, a new type of discrimination has emerged, which is discrimination against an individual due to age according to Padilla.

"These displaced workers face a bleak future, especially since most employers prefer young employees. Prejudice against an aging workforce is evident in the qualifications posted in job notices and differences in benefits received," said Padilla.

House Bill 6418 covers all employers, labor contractors or subcontractors and labor organizations, the government and all its branches, subdivisions and instrumentalities, all government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and government financial institutions (GFIs), and also non-profit private institutions or organizations.

The bill makes it unlawful for the employer to print or publish or cause to be printed or published, in any form of media, including the internet, any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications, and discrimination based on age.

It also prohibits the employer from requiring the declaration of age or birth date during the application process; declining any employment application because of the individual's age; discriminating against an individual in terms of compensation, terms and conditions, or privileges of employment on account of such individual's age.

Moreover, it shall be unlawful for the employer to: deny any employee's or worker's promotion or opportunity for training because of age; forcibly lay-off an employee on the basis of old age; or impose early retirement on the basis of such employee's or worker's age.

On the part of a labor organization, it shall be unlawful to: deny membership to any individual because of such individual's age; exclude from its membership any individual because of such individual's age; or cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an individual in violation of the Act.

On the part of a publisher, it shall be unlawful to print or publish any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specification, and discrimination based on age.

It shall, however, not be unlawful for an employer to set age limitation in employment if: age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary in the normal operation of a particular business or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age; the intent is to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system that is not intended to evade the purpose of the Act; the intent is to observe the terms of a bona fide employee retirement or a voluntary early retirement plan consistent with the purpose of the Act. Provided that such retirement or voluntary retirement plan is in accordance with the purpose of the Act; and the action is duly certified by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in accordance with the purpose of the Act.

Violators of the Act shall be punished with a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, or imprisonment of three months to two years, or both at the discretion of the court.

If the offense is committed by a corporation, trust, firm, partnership or association or other entity, the penalty shall be imposed upon its guilty officer or officers. (House of Representatives)

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