I’m wondering if my employer can legally require me to hold off my plans to get married based on an alleged provision in my employment contract requiring me to remain single as long as I am employed in their company. Several of my female co-workers have already resigned just so they can get married. Unfortunately for me, I can’t resign since I need the money but at the same time I’d like to get married soon. Can I contest my employer’s policy that requires us to be single just so we can remain employed? I hope your office can give me legal advice on this.
It is contrary to law for employers to require their employees to remain unmarried as a condition of their acceptance or continuity of employment.
According to the Labor Code of the Philippines: “Art. 136. Stipulation against marriage. – It shall be unlawful for an employer to require as a condition of employment or continuation of employment that a woman employee shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that upon getting married, a woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually dismiss, discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason of her marriage.”
As clearly stated by this cited law, stipulations against marriage cannot be subject of an employment agreement or be used as a determining factor in the employment status of an employee. Stipulations against marriage as a company policy is clearly discriminatory against women and is therefore considered illegal even if the employee conformed with such agreement (Cesario A. Azucena, Jr., Everyone’s Labor Code, 2007).
To highlight this prohibition on stipulations against marriage, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that a female employee cannot even be dismissed from work on the ground of dishonesty for writing “single” on her civil status despite being married (PT&T vs NLRC, G.R. No. 118978, May 23, 1997).
In another decision by the SC, it was ruled that should the employer insist on requiring its employees to remain unmarried, then the employer has the burden to prove that such requirement reflects an inherent quality reasonably necessary for a satisfactory job performance (Star Paper Corporation vs. Simbol, G.R. No. 164774, April 12, 2006).
To reiterate, the law is clear that stipulations against marriage for purposes of employment are prohibited. And thus, you can rightfully question your employer’s implementation of such a discriminatory policy.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org