There are few ideas that can be described as truly inane. The proposal by Probinsyano Ako Party-list Rep. Jose Singson Jr. to extend the maximum probationary period for workers from the present six months to two years certainly qualifies.
Although he claims otherwise, Singson clearly wants to help business owners enjoy cheap labor while dodging the responsibility of paying out benefits and having to deal with such pesky concepts as security of tenure.
Singson says the prevailing six-month probationary period “is not sufficient a period in order for the employer to determine if the probationary employee is qualified for regular employment.”
“Employers are left with no recourse but to end the probationary employment even when they are still in the process of evaluating the probationary employee to avoid the automatic regularization of an unqualified employee in their workforce,” Singson says in the explanatory note to his House Bill 4802.
He adds that the six-month probationary period "limits the right of the employer to secure quality employees."
Under current labor laws, workers can only be placed under a probationary period of up to six months unless an apprenticeship agreement stipulates a longer timeframe. Unless they are let go, workers are automatically regularized when they reach their sixth month of employment.
This provision has led unscrupulous companies to practice “endo
” (short for “end of contract”), hiring contract workers for just under six months then letting them go so they would not have to regularize them and pay them benefits.
But Singson argues that with his bill, “workers will be able to enjoy continuous employment for more than six months, which will enable them to qualify for some of the mandatory benefits under existing laws.”
He also says this would give workers the time to acquire skills, talents and other qualifications that would lead to their regularization.
“We are in effect creating better job security for the average probationary employee, who most often than not fall[s] victim to company practices that take advantage of loopholes in the law,” Singson says.
Thankfully, Singson’s House Bill 4802 has received the drubbing it deserves, drawing no support from either the Palace or the Department of Labor and Employment.
If by some miracle Singson’s bill asses in the House, senators promise it will be dead in the water in the Senate.
This is as it should be.
After all, the congressman’s argument that a two-year probationary period would “protect workers from being fired every six months” as a result of endo
is fallacious because employers can, in fact, be fired at any time, regardless of the length of the probationary period. Extending the probationary period does nothing to create better job security.
The argument that companies need more time to decide on employees is silly as well. One might easily argue that a company that cannot tell if an employee is worth keeping after six months probably shouldn’t be in business anyway.
You cannot claim to protect workers rights by taking away what they already have. Otherwise, what is to stop congressman Singson and like-minded lawmakers from legislating that it is all right for companies to pay their workers only half of what they deserve, or delay their salaries on a regular basis—on the twisted notion that this somehow "protects" them by keeping them employed longer?