The View From Taft

Being asked how old we are can touch a sensitive nerve. As our birthdays unfold, how many of us dread turning older?
However, if there are people who have fully embraced their ages, they would perhaps be our grandparents. On September 9, we Filipinos, along with many other nationalities, celebrated Grandparents Day. It was heartening to see many activities in malls and public spaces that highlighted the occasion. Restaurants were full to the brim with families honoring and dining with their elders. Shops had special giveaways, and one airline offered perks and upgraded its services for senior passengers. Even Google had a special doodle on its homepage.
However, Grandparents Day is more than just remembering them. It is a stark reminder that no matter how old we are, we are valued, and we remain relevant. This special day also teaches us about inclusivity in many aspects. In terms of employment practice, for instance, Republic Act 10911, comes to mind.
Enacted only two years ago, on July 21, 2016, the law prohibits discrimination against any individual in employment on account of age and provides the penalties for such prohibited acts. It echoes and complements the mandate of the Philippine Constitution to promote equal work opportunities for everyone regardless of age. The Act covers all employees, job applicants, and all employers, labor contractors or subcontractors, labor organizations, and publishers. The Act states that employment should be based on one’s abilities, knowledge, skills, and qualifications rather than on age. Moreover, the Act prohibits arbitrary age limitations in employment. In other words, employees and workers should be treated equally in terms of compensation and benefits, performance management and promotion, training and development, and other employment opportunities regardless of age.
The Act’s implementing rules and regulations, released by the Department of Labor and Employment on February 2, 2017, emphasize the following:
Employers should not discriminate against an individual based on age at any stage of employment; i.e., declining employment application, forcibly laying off, and imposing early retirement;
Labor organizations should not use age as a basis for non-acceptance of an employee as a member, nor cause an employee to be discriminated against by an employer; and
Publishers should not print employment advertisement materials suggestive of age preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination.
Human resource and labor relations practitioners must adhere to these guidelines from hiring to retiring. Implementing Republic 10911 in the workplace supports and creates a non-discriminatory environment in which inclusivity is cultivated and diversity is celebrated.
During our class discussion of fair employment practices, I asked my students to create a program to support Republic Act 10911 in an organization or company. They came up with a “generation empowerment program.” They described their proposal as a mutual mentorship program between the younger and the older members of a company. Younger employees can share their know-how on new advancements and technology while the older ones can impart their knowledge from their years of company and industry experience. I was impressed by how my students appreciated the law (and its implementing rules and regulations) and churned out a concrete measure that I consider a beautiful confluence.
Reflecting on my students’ output, I could not help but be reminded of our chief finance officer (CFO), who turned 80 years old this year. One may wonder why she has not yet retired, or whether she is still capable and relevant. Every day, however, I witness her energy, passion, and commitment to her job. She even looks younger than 80! In one conversation, she told me that she is so advanced in age that she can no longer keep up with trends, practices, and technology. But she held full conviction when she said that despite any limitation her age may bring, she is more than able to share her wisdom, foresight, and guidance. And our octogenarian CFO does exactly that for eight hours a day, five days a week.
So, is age just a number? Definitely! It is a number that can be overpowered by one’s capacity to share talent and skills, one’s will to create change, and one’s desire to make an impact.
Michael Angelo E. Malicsi is a part-time lecturer at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He is the chief human resource and administrative officer of Chef Tony’s Snack Foods Philippines Corporation. Mike is an Australia Awards alumnus.