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Friday, September 20, 2019

Allan: Overstaying or age discrimination

Being a senior citizen, I can say I served humanity for 40 years as I started working at an early age. Now, realizing I worked and volunteered for a greater part of my life. Now I get a chance to take a slower pace of life and say “no” to a lot of things. Choices are easy to come by and priorities have shifted. Reaching a major milestone in life gave me a sense of fulfillment and new expectations for the coming years. It does give a new sense of purpose and direction with a goal to accomplish. Retirement allows some people the chance and opportunity to do things they missed to do because of the sense of responsibility to raise a family or otherwise.

But that is not how every person looks at life at age 60 or beyond. Many still want to work because of economic and social need, holding on to power, not wanting to lose some benefits, wanting the prestige, the sense of purpose and many more reasons. We have heard government employees hanging on to positions which could have been given to people who are equally capable. It’s like sitting on a position which would have opened opportunities for others, but because of their presence deprives others of career advancement.

As of last year the RA 10911 known as the anti-age discrimination act was set into place with the DOLE coming up with the guidelines, simply put, no one is to be discriminate in any worker but the government should provide equal opportunities to all. But saying that it also leaves a sour taste to those who are no longer performing on the job but remain there because they wait for their retirement.

Since 2013 policy makers have been looking at lowering the retirement age from 60 to 55 and the mandatory retirement age of 65 to 60 or some other variations. At present it is the SB No 1289 trying to amend the GSIS law. The GSIS still maintain that 60 is optional retirement and 65 is the mandatory retirement of government employees.

But in the city of Baguio, the local government department heads have seen the loophole by sitting on their positions until they reach 65 and again requesting another six months from the local government and another six months from the national government.

How it all started? It was modeled by a former department head and followed suit by those who were supposedly retiring at 60 but opted to retire at 66 years old after taking the mandatory retirement option and extending one year beyond the mandatory retirement age.

So we have some Assistant Department heads, which never got a chance to become a department head even if they had qualifications and maybe perform better when they would have headed the department. And the hidden benefit is this, when a government employee reached 60 years old, it means higher take home pay because the deductions no longer apply.

With the equal opportunity, then we should look at the younger labor force waiting that someone retires so that they can also have a chance to be employed in government. As of 2010 the 2.7 M unemployed Filipinos are aged 15-24.

Unemployment as of 2011 was 7.4% a little improvement from the 8.5% of year 2000 with a steady declining pattern. As of January 2015 the unemployment rate was 6.6% eventually going down to 5.7% in July 2016 but an underemployment of 19.7 all data from PSA.

As of July 2017 there are 70M labor force and at least 42.5M working with the Cordillera Administrative Region having the highest participating rate at 64.5%.

The 15-24 years old are waiting for people to move up the ladder so that starting positions will be vacated and they can get in to work, but with more overstaying generals and department heads, how can the young get into the workforce. As one employee mentioned “the salary of a department head can pay two to three new employees.”

So when they retire and someone takes their place, chances are the movement in the career ladder will give opportunities to aspiring young and energetic employees. Is this not also a sign of discrimination?

“The writer takes his pen, and writes the words again – that all is fair in love” but it may not be fair in the government service.
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