House of Representatives

House OKs anti-endo bill banning labor-only contracting

Mara Cepeda

LABOR DAY. Various groups are gearing up for a series of protests and activities to observe Labor Day on May 1, 2017.

File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

But House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano says this anti-endo bill 'pales in comparison' to the Labor Code

The House of Representatives passed the security of tenure bill which would ban labor-only contracting but would still allow legitimate job contracting and fixed-term employment.

On Tuesday, December 1, a total of 204 legislators passed on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 7036 or the proposed Security of Tenure Act.

But 7 legislators voted no, arguing the measure still does not prohibit all forms of labor contractualization. Only 3 abstained from the vote.

HB 7036, which seeks to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines, would explicitly prohibit labor-only contracting under the law and permit legitimate job contracting and fixed-term employment under certain conditions.

This is the re-filed version of the anti-endo bill that President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed in 2019 despite certifying it as urgent. 

At the time, Duterte said labor-only contracting should be prohibited but “legitimate job-contracting should be allowed” as long as the contractor is “well capitalized, has sufficient investments, and affords its employees all the benefits” in labor laws.

Under HB 7036, there is labor-only contracting when the contractor or subcontractor does not have substantial capital or investment to provide tools or work premises, and the workers they place are performing activities directly related to the principal business of the contractor’s employer.

Legitimate job contracting happens whenever a job that is not a core service of the principal employer is farmed out to a contractor or manpower agency to do the specific task. 

HB 7036 would also generally prohibit fixed-term employment, which is the hiring of workers for limited periods of time. But the measure would allow such an arrangement for the following:

  • Overseas Filipino workers
  • Workers on probation
  • Relievers who are temporary replacements of absent regular employees whose engagements shall not exceed 6 months
  • Project employees
  • Seasonal workers
‘Pales in comparison’ to Labor Code

House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, however, opposed HB 7036 and argued that it is a watered down version of the Labor Code. 

The Abang Lingkod lawmaker was a principal author of the anti-endo bill that Duterte had vetoed in the previous 17th Congress. 

“The new bill departs from the original intent of the old bill which was to eliminate ‘endo.’ The current bill, to my mind, will not address the problem on labor-only contracting,” said Paduano. 

“This ‘substitute bill’ pales in comparison to the provisions of the Labor Code of the Philippines that clearly stipulate the prohibition of abusive workers’ contracts,” he added. 

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro likewise voted against the anti-endo bill because she said it would still provide “legal cover” for the abusive practices of employers, who would still be allowed to hire relievers, project workers, and seasonal employees. 

She said HB 7036 would only worsen the unemployment caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as contractual workers were the first to lose their jobs when the lockdowns were imposed.

“Tinuturo na rin sa atin ng pandemya na kung nais nating masabi na totoong may hustisya ang ating lipunan para sa maliliit at mahihirap, walang lugar dapat para sa endo,” said Castro. 

(The pandemic is teaching us that if we truly want justice for the marginalized and oppressed in society, there should be no space for endo.)

Castro is part of the progressive Makabayan bloc, which filed a stricter version of the anti-endo bill that would have banned all forms of contractualization and fixed-term employment. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.