Bello: Companies may be required to regularize 80% of employees

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Incoming Labor Secretary Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III said he is considering requiring all companies in the Philippines to regularize at least 80% of their employees.

"For me, for practical reasons, I will consider an 80-20 arrangement," he told reporters on Tuesday, June 21, during a press conference in Davao City.

This setup was proposed by the current Department of Labor and Employment. The arrangement of 90% regular employees and 10% non-regular employees has also been suggested.

Bello may issue a Department Administrative Order to implement this requirement. Such moves are in line with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's instructions to Bello to solve the problem of contractualization in the country.

"I will do that. Because that is the first marching order of the president to me," said Bello. 

While Duterte, in his campaign speeches, talked of a gradual phase-out of contractualization, Bello said the 80-20 requirement is flexible, depending on "circumstances of the company."

Bello said that the 80-20 arrangement could be imposed upon bigger companies while for smaller ones, say ones with 200 employees, a 90-10 arrangement can be imposed.

When to allow contractualization

He echoed Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez' sentiment that contractualization can't be completely eliminated in certain industries or companies because of the nature of their line of business.

"Sometimes, the needs of the company are not permanent. For example, during Christmas season, they will need additional employees. That would be okay, if they hire on a seasonal or project basis," said Bello.

It's the abuse of contractualization that Bello will crack down on. One such abusive practice is hiring employees to fill in a permanent need of a company, letting them go, and rehiring them again and again. (READ: Labor Day cry: 'End contractualization, raise wages')

Employees that render work necessary for the daily operations or main business of a company should all be regularized. Companies, however, still manage to skirt this requirement.

Asked how he would put a stop to such exploitation, Bello said he would implement a verification system which would entail asking employees if they are being victimized by such a modus operandi. 

"We will conduct verification, we will ask salesladies if they are constantly rehired," he said. 

Change of department name

Major mall chains and media companies are known to hire many of their employees on a contractual basis. Bello will face challenges convincing such businesses to revamp their employment schemes. 

But he said it's in the best interest of companies to regularize employees vital to their daily operations. (READ: Can PH firms thrive without contractualization?)

"It's better if your employees are regular because they are more motivated to be productive," he said.

Any company that fails to see this has a "distorted" way of thinking, he added.

"Medyo distorted na isip ng employer, paalisin ka nang 5 months. Kung magaling 'yung employee na 'yun, bakit hindi mo kukunin?" he said.

(It's a distorted way of thinking for an employer to let an employee go after 5 months. If the employee is good, why don't you hire him or her as a regular employee?)

While Bello intends to quash abusive contractualization, he also wants DOLE under his watch to be "equitable," with the interests of employers and management at heart as well.

To reflect this policy direction, he even wants to change the name of the DOLE to "Department of Labor and Management" or "Department of Labor and Employer." 

He explained that the current name of the DOLE seems "one-sided" since it sounds as if the agency is focused solely on interests of employees without addressing concerns of employers. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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