The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) has submitted a revised position paper to the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resource Development in regard to Senate Bill No. (SB) 858, more popularly known as the security of tenure bill.
Authored by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, SB 858 proposes to change the existing classification of employment into two broad categories, namely; regular employment and non-regular, into work arrangements based on contracts for indefinite period and contracts for indefinite period and contracts for definite period.
ECOP President Edgardo G. Lacson said this constitutes a "radical change since it discards fundamental concepts and doctrines on employment that have evolved through the years and are deeply entrenched in law and jurisprudence as well as in practice, and introduces a new taxonomy of terms and definitions whose applicability if not validity remains to be tested in unnecessary litigations."
In this connection, Lacson noted ECOP's "strong reservations" on the wisdom of enacting such a bill detached from the rest of the specific provisions of the Labor Code with which it should be correlated.
Lacson cited controversial provisions of the bill, particularly Sec. 4 which contains an enumeration of contracts for definite period. "The danger of making such enumeration which creates rights and obligations between the parties is that contracts not included are deemed excluded," Lacson argued, adding that the enumeration does not include:
• activities that may not be directly related to the business of the employer such as casual employment as well as certain types of project employment;
• fixed term employment; and
• contractual employment
At the same time, the ECOP leadership questioned Sec. 5 of the bill which prescribes the form and content of contracts for definite period and specifies that renewal of a contract for definite period can be made only once. This prescription is highly objectionable not only on the ground that it restricts flexibility of employers to adjust to business exigencies and does not conduce to job growth as well, but also on legal and constitutional grounds, Lacson pointed out. In addition, he said it would mean that the contracts for definite period allowed in Sec. 4 can only be renewed once, and if renewed the second time, are transformed into contracts for an indefinite period or regular employment under Art. 280. In other words, perpetual employment for non-regular employees.
There are a number of other objectionable provisions of the bill, notwithstanding Sec. 7 which correlates the duration of probationary employment with annual gross basic salary. Lacson maintained that there seems to be no logic or rationality why the duration of the probationary period should be based on a fixed amount of salary which invariably gets eroded by inflation through time. He also insisted that probationary employment is an exercise of management prerogative subject to regulation by the law which sets a maximum "trial period" extendible when parties agree otherwise, as the when longer probationary period is justified by the nature of work to be performed by the employee, or to give the employee a second chance to pass probation standards.
As this developed, the House Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resource Development has approved House Bill No. 4853, a consolidated version of eight (8) various security of tenure bills.
This bill has been forwarded to the Committee on Rules for scheduling of plenary discussion.