Press Release
February 4, 2016

Congress lowers retirement age for racehorse jockeys

Recognizing the special circumstance and inherent dangers in their line of work, both houses of Congress have approved the bill which reduces the retirement age for racehorse jockeys from 60 years old to 55.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, who is the principal author of Senate Bill 129, says that there is a need to synchronize the retirement age for jockeys with the prevailing policy set by the Philippine Racing Commission (PHILRACOM), the regulatory body governing the racing industry, which only allow them to work until 55 years old.

House Bill 4133, the counterpart measure in the House of Representatives, is authored by Valenzuela City 2nd District Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo.

The measure amends Article 302 of the Labor Code and inserts a new provision which states that a professional racehorse jockey who is duly licensed by the PHILRACOM shall be compulsorily retired upon reaching the age of 55 years and shall be entitled to all retirement benefits.

Under the current Labor Code, the retirement age for regular employees is 60, while for underground mining workers is 50.

"While the jockeys are only allowed to join professional races up to 55, their retirement benefits can only be received and enjoyed by the time they reach 60. This means that they cannot work but they still they are not protected by social insurance for five long years," Jinggoy laments.

Jinggoy also noted that student jockeys start at a young age of 17, and many retire at an early age even before reaching 50.

According to a position paper by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in full support of the measure, jockeys reach their prime at 30 years old and it starts to diminish at 40; and they are exposed to strenuous activities and to common jockey injuries such as fractures, dislocations, concussions, and soft tissue injuries.

"The pressure of competition have added to existing requirements of very low body weights, increases the risk for jockeys to acquire disordered eating habits and to adopt other unhealthy behaviors to make weight," the paper further said.

PHILRACOM requires that jockeys must not weigh more than 52 kilograms.

The bill is expected to be sent to President Aquino for enactment.

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