Jinggoy moves to strengthen equal employment regardless of gender

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, January 28, 2011-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE) moves to institutionalize measures assuring equal employment opportunities for all regardless of gender to address discriminating the workplace against women, lamenting that despite the explicit guarantees expressed by the Constitution, ratified United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the recently enacted Magna Carta for Women where he believes that many cases of discrimination to women happen in factories, corporate towers and also in government offices.


Jinggoy stated that all these legal assurance on equal employment, discrimination still persists in today’s supposed modern times, citing that the Bureau of Women and Young Workers and the National Statistics Office study showed that women employees generally earn less than their male counterparts, they are predominantly in low-skilled jobs and only a few of them advance to the top of the organizational hierarchy.


Department of Labor and Employment-Institute for Labor Studies (DOLE-ILS) study revealed that a one-thousand peso monthly salary gap between male and female workers, and the gap increasing from unskilled to managerial and supervisor levels adding that females tend to be given limited access to training, promotions and other fringe benefits, compared to the males.


The Senate Labor Committee hearing with Committees on Youth, Women & Family Relations and Civil Service & Government Reorganization centered on expanding the prohibited acts of discrimination on account of sex and identifying particular work-related instances which can be classified as discriminatory, and therefore illegal.


Among the bills discussed were amending Article 135 of the Labor Code to prohibit employers from giving preference to male applicant in the hiring process, whether through notices or advertisements for employment, or in the actual recruitment where the particular job can be equally handled by a woman, and the Anti-Gender Discrimination in Employment Advertising Bill; amending Article 135 of the Labor Code to prohibit favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to dismissal of personnel or the application of any retrenchment policy of the employer solely on account of their sexes; amending Article 137 of the Labor Code to prohibit denying any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under our laws by reason of her sex, age, ethnic origin, beliefs or relations; proposed Fair Pay Act prohibiting discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex; proposed Unlawful Employment Practice Act prohibiting refusal for employment or training and discharge from employment due to sex or sexual orientation, among others.


They also considered a proposed measure to allow night work for women employees when increasing demand for work provides equal opportunities to work at night. The Labor Code generally prohibits night work for women for industrial and commercial undertakings, except in cases of emergencies and calamities, where urgent work has to be performed on machineries, where the employee is holding managerial/technical post, where the workers is engaged in health and welfare, analogous situations identified by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, among others.


Estrada, who authored Senate Bill number 859 said that there has been a demand for exemption from the night work prohibition for women employees, especially in the call center industry.


To increase women participation in work and enhance employment generation in granting exemption, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) considered the changes brought about by the increasing demand for globalization, liberalization, advanced information and communication technology and the Constitutional mandate for the equal rights to employment opportunities and the right against employment discrimination. (Jason de Asis)


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