House approves Security of Tenure bill, 204-7

Published December 1, 2020, 11:02 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives voted Monday night to pass on final reading an amended version of the proposed Security of Tenure Act proposing an end to labor-only contracting in the country.

With 204 affirmative and seven negative votes, House Bill 7036 was approved on third and final reading. Three House members did not participate in the voting.

1Pacman Partylist Rep. Enrico Pineda,  chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, said the Lower House is confident that it was able to address the reasons why President Duterte vetoed the bill that Congress had approved last year.

Aside from Pineda other authors of the bill included Deputy Speaker Precious Hipolito Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Michael Edgar Aglipay (DIWA Partylist); and Jesse Mangaoang (PDP-Laban, Kalinga).

 Six Makabayan bloc lawmakers voted to reject the bill after withdrawing as co-authors of the bill.  
Pineda’s rejection of their amendments to the bill triggered the decision.

Pineda noted that the opposition solons actively participated in the committee deliberations of the measure but did not declare their opposition to the final version of the bill.

Makabayan solons were  joined by Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano who insisted that the bill “departs from the original intent of the old bill  which was to eliminate endo.”

 “HB 6908  (the first bill) outlaws contractualization while HB 7036 legalizes job contracting. This will complicate the issue due to the very thin line that separates labor contracting from job contracting,”  explained Paduano

Pineda said the House panel took into consideration the issues raised by President Duterte against the first approved version of the legislative proposal that the chief executive vetoed.

In his veto message of the enrolled anti-endo bill last year, Duterte took notice of the provisions of the measure that “unduly” broadened the scope and definition of “endo”, a contraction of “end of contract.”

“Endo” has been a much criticized action by abusive employers to avoid granting their workers permanent tenure after six months of services.  Thus, employers terminate the services of workers on the fifth month, then rehire them a month later

Implementation of an “anti-endo” law is a campaign promise of Duterte that has been much awaited by the labor sector.

Pineda said HB 7036 will plug the loopholes that employers usually resort to in order to skirt mandatory regularization of workers.

He stressed that the measure also strikes a balance between the interest of the management and the welfare of its workers.

Under the bill, labor only contracting is prohibited.  It defines existence of this abusive practice under any of  the following conditions:

1.    The contractor does not have substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, work premises, among others;

2.    The contractor has no control over the workers’ methods and means of accomplishing their work;

3.    The contractor’s workers are performing activities which are directly related to the principal business of the employer.

HB 7036 introduces a new provision that requires all persons or entities doing business as job contractors to obtain a license from the Department of Labor and Employment.

It also declares that violation of substantive or procedural due process for workers constitutes illegal dismissal.

Under the bill, an illegally dismissed employee’s entitlements are broadened to include the payment of social welfare contributions and benefits.

Fixed term employment is prohibited except in cases of overseas Filipino workers, workers on probation and relievers who are temporary replacements of absent regular employees.  Duties of relievers will be limited to six months.