Bello opposes House bill proposing 2-year probationary period for workers

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is against a House bill seeking to extend the probationary period of workers from 6 months to 2 years, saying this would deny workers their right to security of tenure.

According to Bello, House Bill (HB) No. 4802 filed by Probinsyano Ako Representative Jose "Bonito" Singson Jr runs counter to government policy.

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

In filing the bill, Singson, who is the younger brother of businessman and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis "Chavit" Singson, claimed the current 6-month probationary period is "not sufficient" for employers to determine if a worker is qualified for regular employment.

He added that the bill would benefit workers and "create better job security" because they would be able to enjoy work for more than 6 months, thus enabling them to qualify for some benefits under the law.

But the labor secretary refuted this, saying HB No. 4802 would encourage contractualization as "employers can terminate the workers within two years, which limits a worker's right to statutory benefits as a regular employee."

Bello added that the current probationary period of 6 months is also enough for employers to determine workers' qualifications. To triple it to 24 months, he said, would be "too long" for workers to secure permanent employment.

Labor groups earlier slammed HB No. 4802 as nothing but "a pro-business and anti-workers policy" and denounced it as a "cheap trick" to deprive workers of their right to regularization and benefits.

Singson's bill comes after a setback for workers' groups earlier this year when President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the security of tenure bill despite certifying it as urgent. Labor groups vowed they would continue efforts to abolish all forms of contractualization. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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