DOLE rejects 2-year probation period for workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday opposed a proposal to extend the maximum probationary period for workers from six months to up to two years.

The labor chief in a statement said it would deprive employees of their right to security of tenure.

"Delaying a worker’s assurance of permanent employment is no longer in keeping with the administration’s policy on security of tenure,” Bello said.

He added that the proposed measure might lead to more cases of illegal contractualization, giving employers a two-year leeway not to give workers the benefits due to a regular employee.

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 time frame. 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 employers would only hire workers for a period of less than six months so they would not have to regularize them and pay for benefits.

Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr., who is also a businessman, earlier said the bill he has filed would enable all workers "to enjoy continuous employment for more than six months."

He added that employers can regularize workers any time within the two-year period.

Bello, however, said six months is enough to determine if a worker deserves to be regularized.

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to fulfill his 2016 promise to put an end to endo. Despite earlier certifying as urgent the so-called 'End Endo' or Security of Tenure bill, he vetoed in July a version approved by both chambers of Congress, saying it destroys the balance between the conflicting interests of laborers and employers. The same measure has been refiled in Congress.