DOLE urges employers to hire PWDs
by Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (22 August) -- Business owners in the province are missing out on tax incentives offered by the government because they are not employing differently-abled but highly skilled persons or persons with disabilities (PWDs).
This was the concern raised by local officials from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) during a Kapihan forum held August 17 by the Philippine Information Agency.
In the forum, Kenrick Villaluz, labor and employment officer II of DOLE here said the lukewarm attitude of employers when it comes to hiring PWDs mainly stems from unawareness.
About 40 local employers were recently invited by DOLE here to discuss about employment opportunities for local differently-abled persons. "But sadly, no one showed up," laments Villaluz.
The labor officer said the negative mind-set prevalent among business owners towards employing PWDs mainly stems from unawareness. They do not know the benefits that await them if they hire PWDs nor are they aware that there are highly capable PWDs who are qualified to work, said Villaluz.
Employers who hire PWDs can avail of tax deductions like 25% of the total amount paid as salaries and wages of differently-abled persons and 50% of the direct cost on the improvement or modification of facilities as required by BP 344 or Accessibility Law, which naturally follows if an establishment has a PWD employee.
Aside from this, the employment of PWDs is mandated by the law under RA 7277 or the Magna Carta which pushes for equal protection for employment in the differently-abled sector.
Villaluz said his office is set to conduct a series of dialogues with business owners, managers and employers about the said benefits, starting with the members of the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.
DOLE has been soliciting jobs for PWDs under a program dubbed Tulay Alalay Para Sa Mga Taong May Kapansanan (TULAY) which is a special program aimed at bringing differently-abled persons into mainstream society.
With the country's unemployment rate currently at 11.4%, differently-abled people have a tough time competing for jobs with able-bodied individuals, said Atty. Jose Ogang, provincial director of DOLE here.
Ogang admitted that they find it hard to find jobs for PWDs.
To compensate for this, Ogang said grants are available for organizations of PWDs through the TULAY program, under which DOLE conducts trainings and provides opportunities for employment and livelihood to skilled PWDs.
Villaluz explained that first, DOLE registers the capabilities of the PWDs and then they are counseled. "After this, we refer them to establishments where their skill might be of use," he said.
DOLE also provides grants to qualified PWD organizations to jumpstart livelihood activities for the differently-abled sector.
Ogang said the TULAY program is different from other livelihood programs because it offers grants, not loans, and therefore it is not repaid.
The Dumaguete City Handicapped Association was among the first beneficiaries of the said grant as DOLE conducted a training on food processing for the association's members. "Now they have an oven, freezer and kitchen utensils," said Villaluz. (PIA) [top]