The labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Tuesday described the proposed extension of six-month probationary employment period to two years as a short-term labor slavery and would force migration of Filipino workers to work abroad.
TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said the wide-ranging implications of the proposed House Bill 4802 authored by Probinsiyano Party-List Rep. Jose Singson Jr. was very dangerous and highly disadvantageous to workers because of its deleterious effect to working people and their families once it is enforced.
“We are at a time when we are struggling to close the gap between the rich and the poor by eliminating this short-term Endo
(end-of-contract) and to minimize all forms of contractualization employment scheme in the country and ensure a just and fair economic share for workers in a growing economy,” he said.
However, he said the HB 4802 practically empowered abusive employment and business practice with a larger latitude and longer contractualization short-term work scheme.
Probationary employment period is a period of six months allowed by law for employer to observe the skills, qualifications and work attitude of prospective employee before being absorbed into the firm as regular employee.
The employer is also given power to fire or dismiss probationary employee within the period if employee is found unqualified for the job without indemnity or legal retribution such as illegal dismissal case.
Probationary employee is paid with basic pay and a few social protection benefits.
They are not, however, entitled to higher wages and benefits that regular employee receives such as separation pay, thirteenth month pay, Christmas bonus, allowances, fringe benefits, sick leave, vacation leave, paternity and maternity leaves, etc, he said.
He also said that probationary employee have no security of tenure and not eligible to join a union due to their short-term work.
“Extending the probationary employment period to two years is a race to the bottom scheme because it will improve the current widely practiced Endo
labor slavery system and will make contractualized work permanent in the country. Probationary employees have no chances to raise their salary, better benefits, cannot join a union, and have no security of tenure, unable to make longer life plans and no capacity to make investments to a stable family,” Mendoza said.
Once the two-year probationary employment period is operationalized, wages are pegged low and social protection benefits kept inadequate which would prompt workers to look for greener pasture abroad by seeking higher wages and better benefits there despite of risks working abroad entails.
“Under the kind of current working conditions that we have, 6,000 to 7,000 Filipinos are leaving every day to work abroad. If we allow this proposal become a law, the number of Filipinos wanting to work abroad will rise resulting to greater “brain drain” with more children and families to suffer,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza also said there was no need to extend the existing six-month probationary period to two years.
“Six months probationary period are more than enough to determine the qualifications of prospective employee with the various modern and credible means of determining prospective employee before they are considered into the job,” he said.
He said there was no need to extend the probationary period because prospective employees had undergone mandatory exposure onsite visit, on-the-job training, apprenticeship, rigorous K to 12 training, workshops, seminars, orientation, assessment and certifications of skills before they apply for work.
In their application for work, Mendoza said, prospective employees had undergone interview and written exams before they went through the six-month probationary period.