MANILA (Mabuhay) – A senator 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 30 years old actually get hired in these fairs?” Senator Pia Cayetano said in a press statement.
Cayetano said the practice of some employers favoring younger applicants or setting preferred age limits for jobs that can generally be performed by any qualified employee, regardless of age, has unduly deprived ‘older’ workers of employment opportunities.
“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,” she said.
She added that the 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.
Cayetano is pushing for the passage of her proposal, Senate Bill No.29, or the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act (SBN 29). The bill is pending on second reading in the Senate.
She said among those backing the passage of the bill are the 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.
She said age discrimination is also a common concern among overseas Filipino workers as many of them are skilled and highly experienced and 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.
“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,” Cayetano said.
Under the proposed measure, 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 face a fine of between P50,000 and P500,000, 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,” said Cayetano. (MNS)