DOLE releases guidelines to protect informal workers from sexual harassment

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reminded employers from the private sector of their obligation to protect informal workers, including household helpers, from gender-based sexual harassment (GSBH) in workplaces.

DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez stressed that it is required by law for both employees and coworkers to prevent, deter, and report any cases of GBSH at work.

The order defines GBSH as specific acts penalized by Republic Act 11313 (Safe Spaces Act), which may be committed either in the streets, public spaces, online, workplace, and in educational and training institutions.

Under the law, GBSH includes uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any individual regardless of the motive for committing such actions or remarks.

The department mandates employers to orient their workers in establishments and households regarding the Safe Spaces Act.

The Committee must also follow due process, look into each complaint, and reach a decision within 10 days of receiving it. Additionally, it must ensure complete anonymity and protect the complaint from reprisals.

A product of the partnership between the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and SM Supermalls, is the first in a series of seminars promoting gender equality and women empowerment in the company.

PCW Executive Director and Officer-in-Charge, lawyer Kristine Rosary E. Yuzon-Chaves said the orientation is vital as the country prepares for the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence against Women in November.

Executives from SM Supermalls also expressed support for ensuring safe areas for everyone.

“We must uphold this Act and ensure that SM Supermalls remain a safe, secure, and respectful environment for all. Today’s orientation is one way of reinforcing and promoting an open and nurturing environment as we serve every customer that comes into our mall,” said Liza Silerio, SM Supermalls Vice President for Corporate Compliance Group. (Trixee Rosel)