Measure requiring firms to hire seniors gets mixed comments

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/JMD (The Freeman) - January 22, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The proposed ordinance requiring business establishments to employ senior citizens in least 10 percent of their total manpower requirements is drawing divided opinion from stakeholders.

In a public hearing at the City Council session hall yesterday, the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs expressed its support to the proposed measure, saying there are a lot of senior citizens who are capable of working.

“As the head of OSCA, I appreciate the move taken by the proponent of this ordinance. It cannot be denied that quite a number of senior citizens are still physically and mentally capable to perform tasks that young adults perform,” OSCA head Dominggo Chavez said.

Chavez cited Section 5 of Republic Act 9994 which states that the government shall provide employment to “senior citizens who have the capacity and desire to work, or be re-employed, shall be provided information and matching services to enable them to be productive members of society.”

On the other hand, Gina Roa, representative of Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc., said their board of trustees is opposed on the proposed measure, calling it “too vague.”

Roa said the proposed measure has good intentions, however, she suggested using the word “encourage” or “highly encourage” instead of “require.”

“The ordinance does not distinguish that business establishments vary in tasks/duties/demands. One kind of business establishment may demand more physical strength or activities than another kind of business establishment. We believe that the ordinance is too general and too vague,” she said.

Roa said the proposed measure may have “implications on the current provisions on retirement from service as stated on the Labor Code as to retirement benefits and pay, given that the retirement age is 60 to 65.”

City Councilor Margarita Osmeña asked if the proposed ordinance would apply to all kinds of businesses, like karaoke bars, massage parlors, among others.

“It is a good ordinance if you think of it, but is it practical in all kinds of businesses?” she said.

City Councilor Sisinio Andales also asked if senior citizens will also be qualified working in a call center.

With the queries of the members of the council, City Councilor Gerardo Carillo, author of the proposed measure, said he will consider the concerns raised by other councilors.

City Councilors Ma. Nida Cabrera and Nestor Archival Sr. asked the OSCA to gather data of all senior citizens with their corresponding skills and abilities so that it would be easy for the establishments to find a source of manpower should the proposed ordinance be approved.

Carillo said he will amend his proposed measure, particularly the concerns raised by the members of the council and that of the hotel association representative.

He said he will stipulate an incentive clause on his proposed ordinance which aims to give incentives businesses a two-percent deduction on annual tax due if ever they would employ senior citizens.

He also requested all interested business establishment owners or anyone to submit their respective position paper to the Sangguniang Panlungsod so that concerns will be addressed during the deliberation of the proposed measure.

Carillo said the ordinance will not prevent senior citizens from receiving their cash assistance from the city government. — (FREEMAN)

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