Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara is urging employers not to engage in discriminatory recruitment practices that favor men over women just to avoid paying additional benefits, particularly maternity leave claims.
"Employers should never hire new employees based on their gender, much more if the intention is to evade payment of maternity benefits. Such practice is not only unfair; it is also illegal," said Angara, co-author and sponsor of Republic Act 11210 which extends the paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60.
The lawmaker from Aurora issued the statement following a survey by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) indicating that the costs entailed in implementing the Expanded Maternity Leave Law would affect the decision to hire women by some companies.
The poll showed that 66 percent of 70 companies surveyed by ECOP said the new law would affect their hiring decisions. However, it was not immediately clear if this meant that employers would not hire more women or they would set a limit on the number of female workers.
Angara, who was also one of the authors of RA 7910 or the Magna Carta of Women which prohibits discrimination against women in all forms, said employers should provide equal opportunities to all qualified applicants regardless of their gender.
He also said that it was not the intention of RA 11210 to encourage companies to prefer men over women in the hiring of new employees.
"In fact, the law prohibits employers from basing their hiring decisions on gender alone," Angara said, as he warned that those who engage in discriminatory hiring practices are exposing themselves to criminal liability.
"The law clearly and specifically states that no employer shall discriminate against the employment of women to avoid the expanded maternity leave benefits," Angara pointed out.
Section 18 of RA 11210 provides that whoever fails or refuses to comply with its provisions shall be punished by a fine between P20,000 and P200,000, and a jail term of not less than 6 years and one day or not more than 12 years, or both.
If the violation is committed by an association, partnership, corporation, or any other institution, its managing head, directors or partners shall be liable to the penalties for the offense.
Source: Senate of the Philippines