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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Laws Protecting Women Workers

Justice Regalado, in the case of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Co. vs. NLRC, et al., (G.R. No. 118978, May 23, 1997) paints a canvas of Philippine laws extending protection to women workers.

"The Constitution, cognizant of the disparity in rights between men and women in almost all phases of social and political life, provides a gamut of protective provisions.  To cite a few of the primordial ones, Section 14, Article II on the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, expressly recognizes the role of women in nation-building and commands the State to ensure, at all times, the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.

"Corollary thereto, Section 3 of Article XIII (the progenitor whereof dates back to both the 1935 and 1973 Constitution) pointedly requires the State to afford full protection to labor and to promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all, including an assurance of entitlement to tenurial security of all workers. 

"Similarly, Section 14 of Article XIII mandates that the State shall protect working women through provisions for opportunities that would enable them to reach their full potential. 

"Corrective labor and social laws on gender inequality have emerged with more frequency in the years since the Labor Code was enacted on May 1, 1974 as Presidential Decree No. 442, largely due to our country's commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

"Principal among these laws are Republic Act No. 6727 which explicitly prohibits discrimination against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment, promotion, and training opportunities.  Republic Act No. 6955 which bans the "mail-order-bride" practice for a fee and the export of female labor to countries that cannot guarantee protection to the rights of women workers.

"Republic Act No. 7192, also known as the 'Women in Development and Nation Building Act,' which affords women equal opportunities with men to act and to enter into contracts, and for appointment, admission, training, graduation, and commissioning in all military or similar schools of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

"Republic Act No. 7322 increasing the maternity benefits granted to women in the private sector.  Republic Act No. 7877 which outlaws and punishes sexual harassment in the workplace and in the education and training environment; and Republic Act No. 8042, or the 'Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,' which prescribes as a matter of policy, inter alia, the deployment of migrant workers, with emphasis on women, only in countries where their rights are secure.  

"Likewise, it would not be amiss to point out that in the Family Code, women's rights in the field of evil law have been greatly enhanced and expanded.

"In the Labor Code, provisions governing the rights of women workers are found in the Articles 130 to 138 thereof." 
ART. 130. Nightwork Prohibition.  -- No woman, regardless of age, shall be employed or permitted or suffered to work, with or without compensation:
(a)  In any industrial undertaking or branch thereof between ten o'clock at night and six o'clock in the morning of the following day; or
(b)  In any commercial or non-industrial undertaking or branch thereof, other than agricultural, between midnight and six o'clock in the morning of the following day; or
(c)  In any agricultural undertaking at nighttime unless she is given a period of rest of not less than nine (9) consecutive hours. 
ART. 131.  Exceptions. --  The prohibitions prescribed by the preceding Article shall not apply to any of the following cases:
 (a)  In cases of actual or impending emergencies caused by serious accident, fire, flood, typhoon, earthquake, epidemic or other disasters or calamity, to prevent loss of life or property, or in cases of force majeure or imminent danger to public safety;
(b)  In case of urgent work to be performed on machineries, equipment or installation, to avoid serious loss which the employer would otherwise suffer;
(c)  Where the work is necessary to prevent serious loss of perishable goods;
(d)  Where the woman employee holds a responsible position of managerial or technical nature, or where the woman employee has been engaged to provide health and welfare service;
(e)  Where the nature of the work requires the manual skill and dexterity of women workers and the same cannot be performed with equal efficiency by male workers;
(f)  Where the women employees are immediate members of the family operating the establishment or undertaking; and
(g)  Under other analogous cases exempted by the Secretary of Labor in appropriate regulations.
ART. 132. Facilities for Women. -- The Secretary of Labor shall establish standards that will insure the safety and health of women employees.  In appropriate cases, he shall by regulations, require employers to:
(a)  Provide seats proper for women and permit them to use such seats when they are free from work and during working hours, provided they can perform their duties in this position without detriment to efficiency;
(b)  To establish separate toilet rooms and lavatories for men and women and provide at least a dressing room for women;
(c)  To establish a nursery in a workplace for the benefit of the woman employees therein; and
(d)  To determine appropriate minimum age and other standards for retirement or termination in special occupations such as those of flight attendants and the like.

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