Senate approves 'endo' bill on third and final reading

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 15-0, the Senate on Wednesday, May 22, passed on third and final reading the bill that amends the existing Labor Code and seeks to stop abusive forms of contractualization.

The bill reiterates the ban on labor-only contracting and clarifies uncertainties in existing laws which have allowed employers to circumvent the prohibition.

Senate labor committee chairperson Joel Villanueva, sponsor and principal author of the bill, said the measure "protects the interests of all parties concerned."

"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. 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," Villanueva said.

Under the bill, labor-only contracting exists when:

The bill also classifies workers under 4 employment types:

Project and seasonal workers have the same rights as regular employees. These benefits include the payment of minimum wage and social protection benefits.

The measure calls for all contractors to obtain a license from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to engage in job contracting. Villanueva said this allows the DOLE to scrutinize contractors' capacity to adhere to existing labor laws and regulations.

Under the measure, an industry tripartite council shall be established to provide a venue for government, employee representatives, and industry bodies to discuss and determine jobs that can be assigned 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," Villanueva said.

The House of Representatives approved a counterpart measure in January 2018. The Senate and the House are now set to convene a bicameral conference committee to thresh out differences between the two versions.

The 17th Congress has only 6 session days left before they adjourn on June 8. But Villanueva is positive that the measure will be finalized by then. After the bicam finalizes the bill, it will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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