Handicapped woes

Dear Atty. Joji,

Our officemate Pia is a software engineer in an advertising firm. Sometime in 2015, she figured into an accident which resulted to the loss of her ability to use her legs. Nevertheless, the performance and productivity of Pia remained the same. When the advertising firm had a change of management, Pia noticed that her wage became 25 percent lower than the minimum wage. When Pia asked management as to the sudden diminution of her wage, the management said that handicapped workers may be paid not less than 75 percent of the minimum wage. Is our employer correct?



Dear Ava,

No, the employer is not correct. Under Section 5 of RA 7277, as amended by RA 10524, a qualified disabled employee shall be subject to the same terms and conditions and the same compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives or allowances as a qualified able-bodied person. Under Section 6 of the IRR of RA 10524:

Section 6. Equal Employment Opportunity

Opportunity for suitable employment shall be open to all qualified PWDs. Efforts shall be exerted to provide qualified PWDs equal opportunity in the selection process based on qualification standards prescribed for an appointment to a position in government and requirements set by the employers in private corporations. No PWD shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment.

A qualified employee with disability shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment and the same compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives, or allowances as an employed able-bodied person.

A person with disability shall not be discriminated on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement, and safe and healthy working conditions.

A qualified disabled person is an employee who can perform, with or without reasonable accommodations, the essential functions of her employment. In this case, Pia is a qualified disabled person. There was no allegation that she cannot perform the essential functions of her employment. The employer should not have had her wage cut below minimum wage and should have provided the same compensation received by able-bodied software engineers in the firm, since the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability effectively amended Article 80 of the Labor Code with regard to minimum age of such workers. Hope to have enlightened you with your query.

Atty. Joji Alonso

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