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House OKs bill boosting anti-discrimination law for women workers

A bill seeking to strengthen the anti-discrimination provisions under the Labor Code of the Philippines that were instituted to safeguard women employees was unanimously passed by the lower chamber on third and final reading Monday afternoon, Nov. 28.

The House of Representatives, voting 248-0-0 (yes-no-abstain), approved House Bill (HB) No. 447, which intends to amend Article 135 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 442, as amended, (Article 133 under the renumbered version of the law), as well as Article 137 (Article 135 under the renumbered version).

The bill seeks to strengthen the anti-discrimination provisions of the law by providing that it “shall be unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex or characteristics of her sex, whether actual or presumed”.

It also revised the second act of discrimination and added a third one under Article 135, as amended.

Under the House bill, these three instances are acts of discrimination:

(a) Payment of a lesser compensation, including wage, salary or other form of remuneration and fringe benefits, to a female employee as against a male employee, for work of equal value;

(b) Favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to assignment, promotion, employment benefits, training opportunities, study and scholarship grants solely on account of their sex or characteristics of her sex, whether actual or presumed; and

(c) Favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to dismissal of personnel or the application of any retrenchment policy or the employer solely on account of their sex or characteristics of their sex, whether actual or presumed.

The proposed measure also seeks to amend Article 137, as amended, by revising the second prohibited act to “… discharge such woman on account of her pregnancy [,] or while on leave or while in confinement due to her pregnancy”.

The bill also added a fourth prohibited act which is “to deny any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under our laws by reason of her sex”.

It further added that any employer who commits or attempts in any manner to commit any of the acts prohibited under Article 137 or any rule or regulation issued pursuant thereto shall, in addition to other penalties as may be provided by law, upon conviction, be punished with a fine between P50,000 to P200,000 and/or suffer imprisonment of one to two years.

The conviction or acquittal obtained by the employer shall not be a bar to the filing by the female employee of a civil suit for the payment of salaries or benefits due her.

The measure also provides that any employee or person who willfully aids or abets in the commission of the acts prohibited in the law of those who causes the commission of any such acts shall be liable in the same manner as the employer.


Source: Manila Bulletin

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