The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva discussed on Wednesday proposed measures prohibiting acts of discrimination and sexual harassment against women in the workplace.
Senate Bill No. 412 expands the coverage of acts considered as crime of sexual harassment. The measure authored by Sen. Loren Legarda includes unwanted text messages, electronic mail, or other similar means that may qualify as vulgar, smutty, sexist, obscene, lurid or malicious as means of displaying sexual harassment.
"Alam n’yo po, mahigit dalawang dekada na mula nang maging batas ang RA 7877. Nag-iba na ang pamamaraan ng sexual harassment gamit ang bagong teknolohiya. Kung dati pisikal, ngayon ay ginagawa na kadalasan sa pamamagitan ng text o social media. Kailangang matugunan at magkaroon ng batas na nagbabawal dito dahil may 60-million internet subscribers sa Pilipinas, 40-million active social media users, at tatlo sa bawat sampung Pilipino ang may smartphone, napakapalaki ng potensyal ng paggamit nito sa pang-aabuso," Villanueva said.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill No. 892 prohibits acts of discrimination such as favoring a male employee over a female with respect to providing assignments, dismissal of personnel and retrenchment application.
Villanueva said that despite our protective anti-discrimination laws, management practices at small or even big corporations often still favor the advancement of men.
"Ito po ‘yung klase ng anti-discrimination measure na gusto natin – patas na pagtingin sa mga kababaihan pagdating sa trabaho. Hindi po dapat gawing basehan ang sex o gender sa trabahong gagampanan ng isang manggagawa, o sa promosyon at sahod," Villanueva stressed.
The measure filed by Senator JV Ejercito precludes the denial of any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under our laws by reason of her sex. Violators will face a penalty ranging from P50,000 to P200,000 and imprisonment of 2 to 4 years.
Furthermore, the labor committee also tackled a measure promoting a friendly working environment for women.
Senate Bill No. 1203 or the Friendly Working Environment for Women Act of 2016 provides rights for women especially pregnant ones. Among the rights included in the bill are the granting of flexible working hours for pregnant women for the whole duration of their pregnancy, and the giving of options for them to work from home provided with a certification from a physician.
The measure, authored by Sen. Tito Sotto, grants women working in manufacturing firms the option to be assigned in a day shift. Women are also prohibited to work in hazardous occupations that will endanger their lives and limbs or would prevent them from conceiving.
Other benefits provided by the measure are: maternity leave benefit, prenatal care leave, proper treatment of pregnant women with medical conditions, and flexible work policies for working mothers and female guardians.
Villanueva believes that society can make change work for women by directly working with them, listening to their needs, and involving them every step of the way.
“Let’s expand the horizon of opportunities and options for women workers, put an end to work and training-related violence and harassment, and promote pay equity and labor rights at work,” Villanueva said.