MANILA — As the nation celebrates Labor Day, Senator Pia Cayetano on Friday reiterated her call for an end to age discrimination in the workplace.
“Job fairs organized by government agencies and private firms have become staple activities every year on Labor Day. But how many jobseekers above thirty years old actually get hired in these fairs?,” Cayetano asked.
Cayetano said some employers tend to favor younger applicants and worst, set preferred age limits for jobs that that can generally be performed by any qualified employee, regardless of age.
“We see age discrimination openly being flaunted in job fairs and classified ads, where companies or employment agencies set specific age requirements for job seekers, such as between 20 to 30 years old. It is also in the employment policies of some industries, although sometimes discreetly,” explained Cayetano.
Cayetano, a lawyer by profession, said the Philippine Constitution guarantees equal employment opportunities for all, and “yet there is no law that prohibits age discrimination at work, not even an aggressive campaign by the labor department to seriously address this unfair practice.”
With this, Cayetano pushed for the passage of her proposal, Senate Bill No.29, or the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act (SBN 29).
“Age discrimination is also a common concern among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Many of them are skilled and highly experienced workers who would be assets in any company or enterprise, but experience has shown them that turning 30 has been a serious obstacle to being hired locally,” Cayetano said.
“Thus, many of our OFWs are forced to stay abroad or return there, sometimes as illegal workers, or even risk their own life and safety as migrant workers in countries torn by conflict or war,” she added.
Cayetano said her bill drew support from Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a support group for migrant workers, and the ‘Abilidad, Hindi Edad’ (‘Skills, Not Age’) Coalition composed of workers and labor groups.
Under SBN 29, the employers are prohibited from publishing or posting ads indicating age preferences, requiring applicants to declare their age, and declining application or laying off employees because of age.
Violators will face a fine of between PHP50,000 and PHP500,000, or imprisonment ranging from three months to two years.
“The Philippine economy is widely acknowledged as one of the fastest moving in the region, and yet our workers remain stuck in backward practices and conditions. Passing the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act would be a fitting legacy of the 16th Congress for our workforce,” she said.