THE MOVE to address illegal contractualization is now “back to square one” after President Rodrigo R. Duterte rejected a proposed department order addressing some issues with the employment practice, persons affiliated with the labor movement and employers’ groups said.
The move to address illegal contractualization is now “back to square one” after President Rodrigo R. Duterte (in photo) rejected a proposed department order. — REUTERS
Joel B. Maglunsod, a former Anakpawis Partylist representative, told BusinessWorld that Mr. Duterte did not approve of Department Order 30 (DO 30), which aims to amend DO 18-A which detailed rules implementing articles 106 to 109 of the labor code, as amended.
“The president did not like it,” Labor Undersecretary Joel B. Maglunsod, also a former Anakpawis Partylist representative, told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.
“The president did not sign the department order that will replace 18-a,” Mr. Maglunsod said after DO 30 was initially forwarded by DoLE to Malacañang in late December.
Although department orders normally require only the approval of the department secretary, Mr. Maglunsod said the labor department sent a final version to Mr. Duterte for his review.
He said that the adjustments concern, among other issues, how to treat activities or functions that are related to the core business of the employer. When asked to expound, he declined to comment, noting that he did not have a copy of the working draft available.
While Malacañang communications officials did not respond to requests for confirmation as of press time, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) said they received a copy of the new draft from the labor department.
“After several contentious meetings the last draft was submitted to President Duterte for approval in December last year, but it was left unsigned to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) so we are back to square one,” Edgardo G. Lacson, ECoP chairman, said in his opening speech in a business forum.
“And just this morning, we received from DoLE the latest draft of the department order.”
On the sidelines of the forum, he told reporters that ECoP was given until January 26 to comment on a “modified” form of DO 18-A. This is different from the scrapped document submitted to President Duterte in December.
Mr. Lacson said he still hasn’t seen the actual copy, clarifying that it was his office that notified him.
“We just received it this morning. We were given up to January 26 to respond,” he said in the sidelines of the forum.
“Basically, it would be the DoLE order 18-A modified. We have to know the modifications. But as a result of the many alterations between the labor, management, and government, I think we will come up with a unified and acceptable draft of the contractualization policy.”
ECoP maintains its position that labor law simply needs to be implemented, especially since it stipulates that certain forms of contractualization are allowed, such as that of project-based or seasonal work, while prohibiting labor-only contracting, in which workers perform activities necessary for business operations without benefits.
“Endo” or “end of contract” refers to the hiring practice wherein workers are prevented from acquiring regular status by employing them through repeated short-term arrangements. It is not necessarily limited to labor-only contracting.
While labor groups want to remove all forms of contractualization, some government leaders fear that this may put at risk the country’s competitiveness since higher costs of doing business would scare off investors.
The Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has proposed a “win-win proposal,” with service providers acting as the workers’ employers and providing full benefits such as leave credit, 13th month pay, retirement, social security and health insurance plans, among others. — Roy Stephen C. Canivel