Press Release
May 30, 2011

Senate lifts nightwork ban on women

Senate approved on Third and Final Reading today Senate Bill 2701 repealing Articles 130 and 131 of the Labor Code of the Philippines which in effect will provide equal employment opportunities for men and women in night work.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, principal author and sponsor of the measure as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, says his committee has decided to repeal the two articles which limit the job spectrum for female workers.

"Initially, we wanted to expand the exceptions prescribed by our Labor Code on women worker on nightwork since it is our aim to level the employment field for men and women while maintaining protection for women workers. But after hearing the invaluable inputs of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, we decided to go all out in dismantling the discriminatory provisions in our Labor Code against our women workers," Sen. Estrada said.

Article 130 explicitly prohibits nighttime work (generally between 12:00 midnight and 6:00 AM) for women in industrial, commercial and non-industrial undertakings (other than agricultural). Article 131, however, provides exceptions on cases of emergencies, urgent work on machineries, managerial posts, cases permitted by the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, among others.

"These stipulations prove oppressive when we look at the boom of call center industry which operates on a 24-hour system. In addition before women workers can actually work, they have to suffer a burdensome process of securing paper work and permits," Sen. Estrada says.

Senate Bill 2701 also introduced a new chapter in the Labor Code on the employment of night workers and provided measures on health assessment, installation of mandatory facilities for workplaces, compensation and benefits for night workers.

Noteworthy provisions include those which provide that "workers shall have the right to undergo a health assessment without charge and to receive advice on how to reduce or avoid health problems associated with their work" and one that requires the employers to provide first-aid facilities, sleeping and resting quarters and means of transportation (subject to exceptions and guidelines by the DoLE).

Sen. Estrada, also the Chairman of the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE), notes that this is in compliance with our obligation to the CEDAW or the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and consistent with the objectives of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women.

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