Republic Act (RA) No. 10524, An Act Expanding the Positions Reserved for PWDs, amending for the purpose RA No.7277 (Magna Carta for Persons with Disability) in April 2013, expanded employment opportunities for PWDs. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) were published on Aug. 15, 2016, the full text of which the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) circulated through Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 48-2017 dated 30 June 2017.
Under RA 10524, Persons with Disability (PWDs) refer to individuals who suffer long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, upon interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
The seven types of disabilities mentioned in RA No. 7277 are psychosocial disability, disability due to chronic illness, learning disability, mental disability, visual disability, orthopedic disability, and communication disability. They are defined in Department of Health A.O. No.2009-0011 as follows:
Psychosocial Disability — any acquired behavioral, cognitive, emotional, social impairment that limits one or more activities necessary for effective interpersonal transactions and other civilizing process or activities for daily living, such as but not limited to deviancy or anti-social behavior.
Chronic Illness — a group of health conditions that last a long time. It may get slowly worse over time or may become permanent or it may lead to death. It may cause permanent change to the body and it will certainly affect the person’s quality of life.
Learning Disability — any disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes (perception, comprehension, thinking, etc.) involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language.
Mental Disability — disability resulting from organic brain syndrome (i.e., mental retardation, acquired lesions of the central nervous system, or dementia) and/or mental illness (psychotic or non-psychotic disorder).
Visual Disability — impairment of visual functioning even after treatment and/or standard refractive correction, with visual acuity in the better eye of less than 6/18 for low vision and 3/60 for blind, or a visual field of less than 10 degrees from the point of fixation. A certain level of visual impairment is defined as legal blindness. One is legally blind when the best corrected central visual acuity in the better eye is 6/60 or worse or side vision of 20 degrees or less in the better eye.
Orthopedic Disability — disability in the normal functioning of the joints, muscles or limbs.
Communication Disability — an impairment in the process of speech, language or hearing, further broken down into two types: (a) Hearing Impairment is a total or partial loss of hearing function which impede the communication process essential to language, educational, social and/or cultural interaction; and (b) Speech and Language Impairment means one or more speech/language disorders of voice, articulation, rhythm and/or the receptive or and expressive processes of language.
PWDs can further be classified as a Qualified Person with Disability, which includes an individual with disability who, with reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of employment position that such individual holds or desires.
For accreditation purposes, PWDs with non-obvious disabilities such as psychosocial, learning, mental/intellectual, visual and hearing disabilities should secure a certification from the Department of Health through its regional hospitals, medical centers, and specialty hospitals attesting to the individual’s impairment.
As provided in the law, equal employment opportunity shall be given to PWDs in the selection process based on qualification standards for an appointment to a position in government and requirements set by employers in private corporations. They shall also be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment, compensation, privileges, benefits, incentives, or allowances as an able-bodied person.
Government agencies shall reserve at least 1% of their regular and non-regular positions for PWDs.
Private corporations, on the other hand, who employ at least 100 employees are encouraged to reserve at least 1% of all positions for PWDs. Those who employ less than 100 employees are encouraged to hire PWDs.
To promote active participation, private corporations that hire PWDs are entitled to the following incentives under the IRR:
1. 25% additional deduction from the private corporation’s gross income of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to PWDs.
To avail of this incentive, private corporations are required to present proof that they are employing PWDs who are accredited or registered with the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Health as to their disability, skills, and qualifications.
2. Private entities that improve or modify their physical facilities in order to provide reasonable accommodation for PWDs shall be entitled to an additional deduction from their net income, equivalent to 50% of direct costs of the improvements or modifications.
Facility improvement under this incentive should be different from the requirement of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg, 344 otherwise known as an Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by requiring certain buildings, institutions, establishments, and public utilities to install facilities and other devices. Under BP Blg. 344, buildings, institutions, establishments, and public utilities are required to install facilities and other devices to allow the mobility of disabled persons.
The IRR further provides that the conditions of hiring and employment of PWDs should be made with the welfare of PWDs in mind. This means that accommodation of PWDs should not impose undue or disproportionate burden, but must ensure the exercise of equal opportunity for PWDs in all fundamental rights. As may be practicable, a work schedule given to a PWD should be modified to favor the employee.
Installation of auxiliary aides and assistive devices in a work place should also be considered to ensure that PWDs are able to perform their assigned task with ease.
RA 10524 and its IRR aim to provide equal work opportunities to PWDs and at the same time incentivizing the private sector for its participation. More than the incentive, integrating PWDs in the work force means rehabilitation, self-development, self-reliance and affirmation of PWDs as productive members of society.
The views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Isla Lipana & Co. The firm will not accept any liability arising from the article.
Tax Senior Manager, PwC Philippines