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Probationary extension bill next best thing to ‘endo’

A House of Representatives panel has revived the bill proposing to extend probationary employment of workers from the current six months to 24 months amid calls to fast-track the passage of the Security of Tenure Act.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment, chaired by 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Eric Pineda, tasked on Wednesday a technical working group to thoroughly study the proposal that would extend the maximum allowable period of probationary employment.

Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose Singson Jr., the principal author of House Bill 4802 that targets to extend the period of probationary employment, said the extension of the six-month period to 24 consecutive months offers a “win-win” compromise to both workers and management.

The bill will likewise address the much-criticized end of contract (endo) practice, which is observed by employers to avoid compliance with the legally mandated regularization of workers who have rendered six months of continuous employment.

During the committee hearing, Labor Undersecretary Anna Dione said it would be best for the House to “take a look at this bill further” to determine whether or not a longer probationary period can address the endo issues.

Singson said the enactment of the bill into law is vital to workers and management who are both confronted with the economic adversities triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This bill works to the advantage of labor and capital who continue to suffer under the Covid-19 crisis. It guarantees workers continuous employment for 24 months and at the same time allows management just enough leeway to recover losses caused by the pandemic,” he said.

Singson said the House labor panel’s decision to refer the bill to a TWG will give all stakeholders more time to deliberate and reach a compromise if needed.

“In this time of the pandemic, workers will benefit more if they have continuous employment instead of being jobless after a mere five months on the job,” he said.

Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Department of Labor and Employment has formally asked President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act to end labor contractualization in the country.

“I just signed the letter addressed to our President recommending the issuance of certification for the anti-endo bill as urgent, pending before the Senate,” Bello said in a Laging Handa briefing.

He said Duterte was ready to sign the law in 2019 but vetoed it after opposition from labor groups.

“In fact, as early as 2019, he certified (as urgent) the endo bill in Congress, which was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. He was ready to sign the law but some labor groups have protested,” Bello said.

Asked about the difference between the pending bill and the one that was vetoed by the President, Bello said they are “substantially the same”.

“The only thing is what could be contracted by employers. The provisions of the bill approved by Congress are good,” he added.

In vetoing the bill, Duterte recognized that certain provisions of the bill, like the intended scope of prohibited contracting, could result in capital placement difficulty which “stifles the rights of the Filipino labor force in the future”.*PNA

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April 2023

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