Lawmaker wants to extend probationary period for workers up to two years

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A businessman-lawmaker is seeking to extend the maximum probationary period for workers from just six months to two years. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 16) — A businessman-lawmaker wants to extend the maximum probationary period for workers from the present six months to two years.

Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr. filed House Bill No. 4802, saying that the current maximum 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 said.

While his measure seeks to extend the probationary period up to two years, Singson said employers can regularize workers any time within this period.

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. Workers are automatically regularized when they reach their sixth month of employment.

This provision has led to the controversial practice called endo — short for “end of contract” — where employees would only hire workers for a period of less than six months so they would not have to regularize them and pay for benefits.

But under HB 4802, Singson said, “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 added that this would also 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 victim to company practices that take advantage of loopholes in the law,” Singson said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to put an end to endo, but this vow has yet to be fulfilled. In July, he vetoed the Security of Tenure bill as it supposedly destroys “balance” between companies and workers.

The same measure, which he had certified as urgent only to turn his back on it, has been refiled in Congress.