Who are persons with disabilities (PWDs)?

PERSONS WITH DISABILITY, PROTECTION: What is the legal basis of protecting handicapped persons in the workplace and the labor market? (See R.A. No. 7277, as Amended by R.A. No. 9442)

Prior to the advent of R.A. No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons,” the relevant provisions are found in the Labor Code on handicapped workers, namely: Articles 78 to 81 thereof. R.A. No. 7277 is now the prevailing law. Subsequently, however, R.A. No. 94422 was enacted for purposes, inter alia, of changing the title of R.A. No. 7277 to read as the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability,” and all references in the said law to “disabled person” were likewise amended to read as “person with disability” or “PWD.” The term “handicapped workers”therefore should no longer be used to describe persons with disability as this is no longer legally correct.

The following terms are specifically defined in the law:

“Persons with Disability” are those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.

“Impairment” refers to any loss, diminution or aberration of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function.

“Disability” means (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical functions of an individual or activities of such individual; (2) a record of such an impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment.

“Handicap” refers to a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability that limits or prevents the function or activity that is considered normal given the age and sex of the individual.

“Reasonable Accommodations” include: (1) improvement of existing facilities used by employees in order to render these readily accessible to and usable by persons with disability; and (2) modification of work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustments or modifications of examinations, training materials or company policies, rules and regulations, the provision of auxiliary aids and services, and other similar accommodations for persons with disability.

“Marginalized Disabled Persons” or more appropriately, “Marginalized Persons with Disability” refer to persons with disability who lack access to rehabilitative services and opportunities to be able to participate fully in socio-economic activities and who have no means of livelihood and whose incomes fall below the poverty threshold.

“Qualified Individual with a Disability” means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. However, consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.

“Covered Entity” means an employer, employment agency, labor organization or joint-labor management committee.