PROBINSYANO Ako party-list representative Jose Singson Jr. recently filed House Bill (HB) No. 4802. The bill seeks to extend the maximum prescribed period of probationary employment from six months to 24 months or two years.
"A period of six months under the present set up is not sufficient a period in order for the employer to determine if the probationary employee is qualified for regular employment, especially in positions which require specialized skills and talents," Singson said in his explanatory note.
He added that six months "limits the right of the employer to secure quality employees."
While the rationale of the proposed bill is understandable to an extent, we cannot help but see problems should it be passed into law.
Singson's HB4802 is being opposed by no other than Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
"Delaying a worker’s assurance of permanent employment is no longer in keeping with the administration’s policy on security of tenure,” Bello was quoted saying in an October 19 online report of CNN Philippines.
In the same news report, the secretary said this may lead to "more cases of illegal contractualization, giving employers a two-year leeway not to give workers the benefits due to a regular employee."
We will have to agree with Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) on this.
The two-year probationary period may benefit the company in a sense but it will clearly not benefit the employees -- the back bone of different companies in their day-to-day operations.
The bill does not make the working environment attractive to people working here in the Philippines. For many workers, waiting for two years to fully enjoy the benefits they get from the companies is a long time.
Two years is also long for a probationary period. It will be a long time for someone to be regularized in the company, something that employees may not enjoy.
In a way the six-month period pushes employees to give their best so that they can be regularized after. If they will be given a two-year period, there is a possibility that some will not give their best anymore.
The six-month period is already ample time for companies to gauge the capability of someone whom they have hired. In that short period, not only the employee's skills are being assessed but also how they work with other people in the office.
Laws on labor must be those that strike a balance between both the employer and the employee. In this case, the two-year probationary period may do more harm than good. It may also negatively impact the work environment in the country as a whole.