The Senate has approved on third and final reading the bill that defines security of tenure for workers, a measure that seeks to stamp out abuses in the practice of illegal contractualization.
Upholding the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to security of tenure, the bill reiterates the prohibition on labor-only contracting, and clarifies ambiguities in existing laws that have allowed employers to tiptoe around the ban, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.
“We longed for this day to come, especially our workers who have suffered because of the evils of endo, a practice which corrupts the dignity of labor,” said Villanueva, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1826, popularly known as the End Endo bill. “We want to give all workers peace of mind when it comes to their employment status, that no worker can be dismissed without just or authorized cause, and due process.”
“We longed for this day to come.”
“We listened to the concerns of various stakeholders, and took these into account in putting together this bill. We believe this measure protects the interests of all parties concerned,” the seasoned legislator continued. “We are grateful for the support we received from our colleagues who helped us pass this measure.”
The passage of the measure, which senators voted 15-0 Wednesday afternoon, marks the first time the Security of Tenure bill passed, with the veteran lawmaker at the helm of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development. Prior to its passage in the upper house, similar forms of the bill languished in the committee level untouched.
Under the proposed measure, Labor-Only Contracting exists when any of the following instances happen:
- The job contractor merely supplies, recruits, and places workers to a contractee.
- The workers supplied to a contractee perform tasks/activities that are listed by the industry to be directly related to the core business of the contractee.
- The contractee has direct control and supervision of the workers supplied by the contractor.
The bill also classifies workers under four employment types: regular, probationary, project, and seasonal. Project and seasonal workers have the same rights as regular employees like the payment of minimum wage and social protection benefits, among others, for the duration of their employment.
“The provision trims down the employment arrangements and addresses the current practice of misclassifying employees to prevent them from obtaining regular status,” he said.
The bill calls for all contractors to obtain a license to engage in job contracting from the Department of Labor and Employment. Making contractors submit themselves to licensing allows the department to scrutinize their capacity to adhere to existing labor laws and regulation, and gauge their ability to provide for their employees, Villanueva explained.
The measure also establishes a mechanism that empowers industry tripartite councils to determine roles that can be outsourced. The industry tripartite council will provide a venue for stakeholders–government, employee representatives, and industry bodies–to discuss and determine jobs which can be contracted out to a job contractor.
“The industry tripartite council may set a positive or negative list of functions or task that are or are not directly related to the principal business. Having an industry-determined listing will help minimize disputes among employers and affected workers,” he said.
“Having an industry-determined listing will help minimize disputes among employers and affected workers.”
Despite the few remaining session days, Villanueva said he remains optimistic that the bill will have just enough time to be tackled in the bicameral conference.
“The next phase of our struggle for the security of tenure bill is in the bicam. We are determined to pursue this, especially that this measure has been certified urgent by the President,” he concluded.