Anti-Age DiscriminationNews

On Labor Day, NGO launches online petition to end age discrimination in the workplace

May 1, 2014

Jobs fairs on Labor Day are fine, but how many applicants above the age of 30 years old actually get hired? A labor group sees age discrimination as one of the culprits behind the steadfast increase in unemployment, as workers above 30 years old including returning OFWs find it difficult to get a foot in the door for job interviews around the country.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that specializes in labor and migration issues, launched an online petition via www.change.org for the passage of a law to ban age discrimination in the workplace. The direct link for petitioners is http://www.change.org/ph/mga-petisyon/members-of-congress-pass-a-law-to-ban-age-discrimination-in-the-workplace?post_id=844259641_10152435336234642.

“Over 30 countries around the world have an anti-age discrimination law or policy in place, according to the International Labor Organization. Here in the Philippines, age discrimination is the 800-pound gorilla in the workplace that no one talks about, but thousands of job applicants and employees experience this everyday,” the Ople Center, in its petition, said.

Susan Ople, head of the policy center, noted that age discrimination has become a major factor for migration as returning OFWs find it difficult to land domestic jobs even if they have gained enormous experience and skills while working in a more competitive environment abroad.

She noted that Senate Bill No. 29 filed by Senator Pia Cayetano against age discrimination and a similar bill in the House of Representatives, The Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act or HB 268 filed by Rep. Edwin Olivarez (District 1, Paranaque City) have not moved pass the committee level.

Cayetano’s bill prohibits employers from publishing ads suggesting age preferences, requiring applicants to declare their age, declining application based on age, and laying off old employees. In her proposed measure, violators will face a fine of between P50,000 and P500,000 or imprisonment for 3 months to 2 years.

“Age discrimination impedes the administration’s mission to bring about inclusive growth. It has become so prevalent that even for messengerial jobs, applicants that are older than 30 years old are being turned away. This practice unjustly shifts the burden on young workers while their parents are having a difficult time holding on to their jobs or applying for better positions due to such age-specific requirements,” the Ople Center stressed.

The Ople Center hopes that other labor and OFW groups as well as individual workers would join its campaign against age discrimination through the online petition and by holding dialogues with legislators once Congress resumes its sessions.

It cited other countries that follow the International Labor Organization’s Older Workers Recommendation 1980 (No. 162) that calls upon each member (state) to take measures to prevent discrimination in employment and occupations with regards to older workers.

Singapore created a Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers in May 2007 that led to the formation of a Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices. Australia, Finland, The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom carried out large-scale government-led campaigns aimed at overcoming employer reluctance to hire and retain older workers.

In the Philippines, the Ople Center noted that job advertisements include very specific age requirements ranging from 20-30 years old.

“Where else can you find a work environment that considers 31 and above as being too old and less desirable for hiring purposes? Age discrimination in the Philippines has become too blatant and prevalent and affects even the younger workers because the burden to earn is unfairly being shifted to them but under less desirable work conditions,” the Center said.

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