Workplace Equality and Diversity in the Philippines: 8 Laws to Protect You

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All employees must feel safe and included within their company. Your workplace should respect all employees’ sexual orientation, age, beliefs, gender, skills, race, career experience, and cultural background. A company that fosters an inclusive culture in the workplace can boost the business’s chances of success through improved employee engagement and productivity. 

To promote workplace diversity and create a more welcoming environment, employees and employers should understand the laws that protect the staff from workplace discrimination. This infographic will be your guide on workplace discrimination, discrimination laws in the Philippines, and how you can protect yourself.

Workplace equality and diversity in the philippines : 8 laws to protect you infographic

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination occurs when people treat an employee unfavorably or unfairly because of their religion, gender, race, sexuality, or disability. Treating someone less favorably because they have different characteristics from the rest of the staff is discrimination.

Employees can experience discrimination in various ways. It can be a one-time incident or an ongoing dynamic between co-workers or between employees and employers. The act can be done intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless of its intended purpose, workplace discrimination is harmful and unlawful. 

Workplace discrimination manifests in different ways. Here are some instances in which you may encounter discrimination:

Unfair treatment

Unfairly treating an employee because of who they are is discriminatory. When this happens, they may feel ashamed, upset, or scared, leading to a drop in their productivity and performance levels. 

This form of discrimination involves spreading rumors about an employee about their protected characteristics or compensating certain workers less for doing the same job due to biases and prejudices.

Harassment

Harassment is repeated unreasonable behavior towards an individual. You may experience it verbally, physically, or psychologically. Some forms of harassment include disability harassment, sexual harassment, or racial hatred. 

Denial of transfers and other opportunities

When supervisors deny an employee a transfer to a lateral employment position or a promotion because of their protected characteristic, it’s considered workplace discrimination. 

Exclusion or isolation by co-workers

Exclusion or isolation means that your co-workers fail to involve you in activities or interactions. It becomes discriminatory when the cause is based on your protected characteristic. 

Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal is when your employer ends your contract for unjust or unreasonable grounds. Employees are usually unfairly dismissed when they try to exercise their workplace rights, and their employers don’t allow them to because of discriminatory reasons. 

How Companies Are Negatively Affected by Workplace Discrimination

Aside from the legal fines, your company can also suffer from other forms of damage that are beyond the scope of the law. Here are a few possible scenarios that can occur:

Potential for a public relations crisis to ensue

Discrimination is very much frowned upon in today’s progressive society. Once your company finds itself in the middle of a discrimination scandal, bad PR and loss of income may ensue. Employees are the company’s advocates, and if they’re mistreated, they can spread the word among their networks and discourage them from doing business with the company.

Bad reputation for the company

Customers aren’t the only people you’ll lose if your company practices discrimination. Developing a bad reputation will also affect the relationship with your business partners. Since they will not want to be associated with a brand that treats a certain group of people inferior, they may pull out of deals or choose not to do business with you in the future.

Job seekers may also be discouraged to apply in your company, and thus your talent pool of skilled workers may shrink. 

Costly lawsuits

Once a discrimination case is taken up to court, your company will have to pay extensive legal fees as long as the lawsuit ensues. If proven guilty, alongside fines, the company may also pay the victim for the emotional distress they’ve suffered. All of these are on top of the financial costs the company will have to bear due to a damaged reputation. 

High employee turnover

Employees who feel like they’re being discriminated against will not hesitate to leave the company. This situation will increase company turnover, which adds up to the organization’s costs as you will have to process recruitment and training multiple times. 

High employee turnover affects the workplace as a whole. Discrimination fosters a toxic work environment where there’s a lack of psychological safety for workers, leading to lower productivity and disengagement. 

8 Laws That Protect You

1. Prohibition on Discrimination Against Women (Republic Act 6725)

RA 6725 considers it discriminatory discrimination when your employer favors a male employee over a female counterpart when they consider giving out promotions, salary raises, training opportunities, or other benefits.

Article 288 of The Labor Code states that the penalty for violating this law is a fine of P1,000.00 to P10,000.00, imprisonment of three months to three years, or both. In addition to this, the aggrieved employee may file a separate claim for money damages and affirmative relief.

2. Extended Maternity Leave Law (Republic Act 11210)

RA 11210 entitles all female workers with 105 days of maternity leave, paid with 100% of their average daily salary credit. This Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women as they’ll still provide their female employees’ benefits even if they’re on maternity leave. 

If an employer fails to comply, they will be subject to a fine of P20,000 to P200,000, imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years, or both. Additionally, the company won’t get to renew its business permit. 

3. Anti-Sexual Harassment Act (Republic Act 7877)

Under RA 7877, sexual harassment includes physical forms (malicious touching, gestures with lewd insinuation, overt sexual advances), verbal forms (requests for sexual favors, lurid remarks), and use of objects, pictures, or letters with sexual underpinnings. 

When a person in the company performs the abovementioned acts as a basis for employment decisions (hiring, salary raises, promotion), to interfere with someone’s work performance, or to cause discomfort or insecurity, it’s considered sexual harassment. The penalty for violations is imprisonment of one month to six months, a fine of P10,000 to P20,000, or both.

4. The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act (Republic Act No. 8972)

Under RA 8972, you’re considered a solo parent if you are solely responsible for a child’s upbringing. In addition, you’re eligible to get a solo-parent ID to get access to benefits. The solo parent benefits include a flexible work schedule, 7-day parental leave, and non-discrimination at work. Unfortunately, there are no penalty clauses under this Act to hold employers liable if they refuse to comply. 

5. Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act (Republic Act No. 10911)

RA 10911 mandates companies to hire employees based on their competence and not their age. As such, employers can’t publish job ads that indicate their age preferences. The penalty for violation is a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, imprisonment of three months to 2 years, or both.

6. Magna Carta of Disabled Persons (Republic Acts No. 7277 & 9442)

In RA 7277, employers must give a qualified disabled employee the same terms and conditions of employment as a qualified non-disabled person would have. Meanwhile, in RA 9442, it’s unlawful to make fun of or mock a person with a disability, whether in writing, words, or actions. 

Any person who violates these Acts shall suffer a fine of P50,000 to P100,000, imprisonment of six months to two years, or both.

7. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Presidential Decree No. 966)

PD 966 aims to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. This decree prohibits the promotion and incitement of racial superiority or hatred, whether in acts of violence, dissemination of ideas, or propaganda activities. 

Moreover, employers can’t discriminate against an applicant or employee on any aspect of employment. Additionally, one is not allowed to utter racial slurs, display racially offensive symbols, or make derogatory remarks about a person’s race, color, or ethnic origin. 

Anyone guilty of inciting racial discrimination may be imprisoned for ten days to six months. If the offense is starting acts of violence against any race or organizing propaganda activities that promote racial discrimination, the offender might face a month to a year of imprisonment. 

8. The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (Republic Act No. 8371)

RA 8371 recognizes, protects, and promotes indigenous cultural communities or indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs). This Act extends to providing the same employment rights, opportunities, and privileges available to ICCs/IPs as an employer would grant any other company member. 

According to this Act, it’s unlawful “to discriminate against any ICC/IP with respect to the terms and conditions of employment on account of their descent.” This also prohibits denying ICCs/IPs any rights and discharging them to prevent them from enjoying their rights and benefits. 

The penalty for violations is imprisonment for nine months to 12 years, a fine of P100,000 to P500,000, or both. In addition to this, they “shall be obliged to pay to the ICCs/IPs concerned whatever damage may have been suffered.” 

Protect Yourself Against Discrimination

If you feel like you’re being discriminated against or harassed by your colleagues or employer, here are some tips on what you can do to protect yourself. 

Know your protected characteristics

Everyone has protected characteristics, and it’s against the law to discriminate against someone because of these. Knowing your protected characteristics can help you determine if the act is discriminatory. 

 Here are some of your protected characteristics:

  • Disability
  • Age
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Religion or belief
Know the law

You must know what your rights are and what’s considered discrimination and harassment. By learning about the law that protects you, you can identify the violation made against you. The article and infographic above can be your guide on the laws and your protected categories. 

Gather documentation

As you come forward with your discrimination case, it’s best to record the incident, especially subsequent ones. As much as you can, take down notes on everything about the incident. Digital evidence such as emails, videos, and photos can also take you a long way to support your case. 

Report the incident to HR

Filing a formal complaint about what happened will show that you are serious about the incident and were offended by the treatment of your co-worker or supervisor. When you don’t report these incidents to the HR department, people will think that what happened wasn’t a big deal. If management doesn’t do anything about the incident, it may be best to move forward and explore your legal options. 

Educate employees on diversity

Diversity in the workplace is beneficial to companies. However, this can only happen when both management and employees commit to making their workplace more inclusive.

With this in mind, as management, it’s your responsibility to educate employees on diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace. However, these lessons should not be confined to the workplace, as it is equally important to treat customers, vendors, and partners more inclusively.

By holding diversity training programs, the company can prevent encountering discriminatory cases as all employees will know how to treat everyone with respect. 

Create an Inclusive Workplace Culture

There are times when offhanded jokes can sometimes turn to harassment. Your company must foster respect and workplace equality. Educate yourself about workplace discrimination to avoid reinforcing harmful stereotypes and damaging the reputation of your organization, which can lead to significant business losses and legal penalties. Remember, too, that you have a responsibility to protect your employees from any form of harm that may weaken their morale and sense of well-being as well as loss of opportunity to earn income fairly.

If you need help finding the right employees for your company, it’s best to work with the leading recruitment agency in the Philippines. Manila Recruitment offers top-notch services in assisting with HR and people management. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

Arvin Ramos