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Age discrimination: Spotlight on the Philippines – the ‘drop the luggage’ syndrome

by on February 29, 2016

Online media stories about age at work pop up in our alerts from around the world. Today we focus on the Philippines, specifically this item in the Sun Star. It highlights a current Senate Bill (the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act) which aims to stop the existing practice of companies favouring younger applicants or setting preferred age limits for specific jobs.

It seems that the Bill is currently pending in the Philippines Congress, despite support from the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute. This is a non-profit organization that addresses labour and migration concerns. Its particular focus is developing programs to empower Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families.

OFWs (sometimes also known as Overseas Contract Workers) are Filipinos who work abroad indefinitely as citizens or as permanent residents of a different country and also Filipino citizens who are abroad for a limited period on a work contract or as students.

The article in the Sun Star draws attention to the problems that OFWs face when they want to return to the Philippines. Apparently it is difficult for them to find work due to age discrimination. The Ople Center, which is promoting the Bill, says it continues to receive reports from returning OFWs who were unable to find local employment opportunities, because they are already over the seemingly preferred age group of 30-35 years old. This has lead to “the ‘baba maleta’ (drop the luggage) syndrome” . This is where OFWs come back to the Philippines to see their families but have to leave again because their age becomes a barrier to local employment. Hong Kong and South Korea are reckoned to offer better work prospects for those aged over 50.

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