In the modern Filipino working landscape, one portmanteau term fills many rank-and-file employees with dread: “Endo.” It means “End of Contract” and has been a thorn in the side of working people in the Philippines, particularly since the start of the 21st Century. By exploiting a loophole in the now-ironclad Labor Law regulation of regularizing employees after six months in the company, some businesses have avoided taking on greater responsibilities for their workforce. This was one of the secondary objectives that President Rodrigo Duterte swore to address during his term. Now, the first step toward that resolution has passed with the upper chamber of Congress.
CNN Philippines reports that the Senate has approved their version of a proposed bill that will remove the shadow of Endo over the working career of many employees in the Philippines. Senate Bill 1826 or the “Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act of 2018” should in practice do away with the strong-arm method of employee contractualization that sees many workers flit from job to job every half-year or so once their limited employment contracts end. Ending a work term after only five months is how some companies have prevented their workers from becoming regular employees with greater benefits (and costs to the company).
To drive home just how vital this issue is and how much President Duterte wants the legislation to answer it, Senate Bill 1826 actually passed unanimously on Wednesday, May 22, with all present Senators casting in favor of it. But for the moment, the contents of the does not yet address Endo but rather “labor-only contracting.” This involves a person or firm serving as a job contractor, recruiting workers that they then place with a contracting company. The contractor thus gets a cut and the employees answer to them instead of their company workplace. Bill 1826 would mandate all workers be directly hired by companies, cutting out the contractor middleman.
Another article on the SOTEEA states that except for the probationary workers (new hires up until 5 months of service), all employees in a company are considered regular, even if they only work for a project or for a season. This also includes legal safeguards that would prevent said businesses from dismissing workers out of hand without “just and authorized cause.” There is no mention of legislation that simply prohibits companies from putting 5-month limits to employee contracts, but that part might be covered by the other side of Congress.
The Senate half of this bill to end Endo and other related practices will be joined to the version already passed by the House of Representatives. They will be ironed out by a bicameral committee that will unite the documents into a single “End Endo” bill, awaiting the President’s signature.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star