Legal Framework of Workplace Diversity Initiatives in the PH

by Angel Grace D. Untalan, OCTOBER 2021

In Hong Kong, local diversity is not a top concern in the corporate agenda for most local businesses, as pointed out by Girolamo Tessuto, a Cambridge Scholar, in 2016.

Further, his findings showed that diversity is often seen as a public relations exercise that has minimal effects on actual workplace practices.

This is much like the case in the Philippines, where laws and internal policies about diversity are anchored towards the goal of protecting employers from public relations crises, costly lawsuits, and bad reputations, among others.

Nonetheless, both public and private companies exert their best efforts to promote a culture of inclusivity, following applicable laws and regulations.

Philippine Diversity and Inclusion Program of 2019

To consolidate efforts of administrative agencies in cooperation with local government units and other government instrumentalities, the President issued Executive Order No. 100, Series of 2019, institutionalizing the Diversity and Inclusion Program (DIP).

The program aims to encourage the implementation of existing laws, rules, and issuances against the discrimination of persons based on age, disability, national, or ethnic origin, language, religious affiliation or belief, political affiliation, health status, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.

Among others, DIP will provide a framework for agencies to identify and eliminate all barriers to equal opportunities in education and the recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, and retention of personnel in the government.

It will also create programs and mechanisms to ensure that all personnel is properly equipped with the ability to manage diversity, including the provision of robust orientation processes and relevant training, as well as avenues to entertain discrimination-related complaints.

Special laws and proposed legislation related to inclusivity

This includes the Magna Carta for Women, as well as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, which also provides for civil and criminal liability in case of violations.

Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash

In particular, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability provides that no entity – whether public or private – may discriminate against a qualified disabled person because of disability regarding job application procedures, hiring, promotion or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

The Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act specifically prohibits the discrimination of an individual in the workplace solely or partially based on actual, perceived, or suspected HIV status.

Said discrimination may come in the form of rejection of job application, termination of employment, or other discriminatory policies in hiring, provision of employment, and other related benefits, promotion, or assignment.

On the other hand, The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act prohibits discrimination against Indigenous peoples for recruitment and conditions of employment on account of their descent.

Recently, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 8243, or the Equality and Non-Discrimination on Race, Ethnicity, and Religion Act on third and final reading a bill that would penalize discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and religion.

If enacted, it will prohibit acts of discrimination which includes the prevention of refusal to employ or, dismissal of an employee, as well as delivering a speech or performing acts of hatred or violence against another person’s ethnicity, race, or religion and refusing to allow a person to access or use any public place, vehicle or facility, among others.

To further promote inclusivity based on sexual orientation and gender identity, several LGUs across the country which includes Quezon City, Pampanga, Bacolod City, Batangas, Ilocos Sur, Cebu, as well as Cavite, also enacted Anti-Discrimination Ordinances to prohibit acts of discrimination directed against LGBTQI+ groups.

Currently, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is empowered to conduct an inspection of company premises, examine employment records, and interview employees to determine compliance with labor laws and social legislation to facilitate the proper monitoring of discrimination and to ensure inclusivity in the workplace.

Under DOLE Department Order No. 183, Series of 2017, the agency may also issue a compliance order or work stoppage order against the employer’s business to remedy its non-compliance with anti-discriminatory laws.

Depending on the law that prohibits specific discrimination, the employer and its officers and agents who participated, authorized, or ratified the discriminatory acts may be held criminally and civilly liable.

Sources:

Photo by Amy Elting on Unsplash

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/product/978-1-4438-8907-0;

https://manilarecruitment.com/manila-recruitment-articles-advice/workplace-equality-diversity-philippines-laws-protect-you/;

https://www.mondaq.com/employment-and-hr/1069136/labour-and-employment-comparative-guide;

https://pcw.gov.ph/enacting-an-anti-discrimination-based-on-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-law/;

https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2019-12-31/philippines-president-signs-executive-order-on-diversity-and-inclusion-program-in-government-entities/;

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1391361/house-oks-bill-penalizing-discrimination#ixzz7AHSJ2Usc;

https://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/first_18/CR00689.pdf

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About the writer:

Angel Grace D. Untalan. A Legal Management graduate with an inclination to pursue the field of higher arts. She is moderately comfortable with social interaction, but can also relish her time off from the crowd. Her works are influenced by distinguished screenwriters such as Gene Roddenberry, George R.R. Martin, and Quentin Tarantino. She aspires to become a law practitioner at The Hague, who has published papers in a Scopus-indexed journal at some point in the future.

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