QUESTION: DEAR Mr. A, I was hired by a private company in December 2009 as a probationary employee. Stated in my contract is the 5 months probationary period. It's now July and I have not received any notice yet of my status. I am afraid they will just let me go anytime because my probationary employment is already over. Can they do this? Thank you! - Louie, Baguio City

PERSONAPOWER: Dear Louie, your employer cannot terminate your services just because your 5-month probationary period is completed already. In fact, you should feel secured that you will keep your job as a regular employee already after working with them for almost 7 months now. Why is this so?

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Article 281 of the Labor Code of the Philippines provides that a probationary employee is considered as a regular employee if he is allowed to work after the probationary period of his employment. Given your case, therefore, you are now considered a regular employee of your employer because you are permitted to work after the expiration of your probationary employment period.

Perhaps, you'd also want to know how the services of a probationary employee is legally terminated according to our Labor Laws.

First, let us understand what a probationary employment is. If employed under Probationary Employment, the services of an Employee shall be subject to a probationary period which should not exceed six months from the date the Employee started working, unless it is covered by an agreement indicating a longer period.

During the probationary employment, the Employee shall be working with the Employer on a trial basis to determine his fitness for regularization. The latter, within this period, is assessing the employee's productivity, compliance to policies, the work relationship established, and other measurable performance factors.

In other words, his conversion to permanent or regular status, shall be primarily conditioned and dependent upon his satisfactory work performance during the period covered. Simply put, he needs to pass or fulfill the reasonable performance standards set by his employer at the time of his hiring. The employee's failure to pass these standards may be a reason for his termination as a probationary employee.

Then, as to how his employment should end, he should understand that at the expiration of the period stipulated in his contract, his appointment is deemed terminated and a notice or termination letter informing him of the non-renewal of his contract is not necessary, as upheld by the Philippine courts. However, I would advise the employers that it's always a good and humane practice to inform the employee, at least 15 days prior to the expiration of his probationary contract, of his employment status.

Knowing your employment rights is good, Louie. It will help you a lot in your employment journey. I would like to mention though that my opinion is mainly based on the information you provided. In case you're wondering, I happen to know such things on labor laws as I spent some years with the Labor Department and extensively practiced the human resource profession in the past years.