Ecop tags 6 proposed laws 'negative'

By Max V. de Leon, BusinessMirror

Posted at Oct 26 2012 07:23 AM | Updated as of Oct 26 2012 03:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) has identified six out of over 100 proposed measures in Congress that they fear would negatively impact on the growth of employment in the country if they were enacted into law.

One of them is consolidated House Bill (HB) 4853 on contracting and outsourcing, which criminalizes contracting out work necessary or desirable or directly related to the business of the principal.

Another is Senate Bill (SB)858, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, that “radically changes” the classification of regular and non-regular employment into contracts for indefinite period.

HB 942 (by Rep. Reynaldo Umali), HB 1817 (by Rep. Emmeline Aglipay), HB 1889 (by Rep. Ben Evardone) and HB 2884 (by Rep. JV Ejercito) raised apprehension from employers because these proposed laws increase penalties for non-compliance of prescribed increases in wage rates.

Also on the list are SB 80 (again by Senator Estrada) and HB 1218 (by Rep. Gloria Arroyo and Rep. Diosdado Arroyo) that mandate the grant of an annual productivity incentive bonus of not less than 10 percent of net profits before taxes, as well as non-diminution of existing benefits, whether granted by law, employer policy/practice or contract and impose penalties for failure/refusal to pay the productivity incentive bonus.

Completing the list are HB 6128, also authored by Representatives Gloria and Diosdado Arroyo that increases maternity-leave benefits from 60 days to 120 days, and HB 6059, introduced by Rep. Rene Relampagos, which seeks to enact a law providing “full satisfaction of monetary awards to complainants/awardees in labor cases in the Philippines.”

Ecop appealed to legislators to reject these bills as they would “undermine employment growth and competitiveness.”

“There are more than 100 bills pending that are deemed harmful to employers, which, together with those cited above, are like the ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over the head of employers,” Ecop President Edgardo Lacson said.

Ecop suggested that Congress instead enact “forward-looking” bills that take into account recommendations made by the private sector in the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

The NCC focuses on 11 areas, namely, education and human resources development, performance government system, streamlined business permits and licensing system, Philippine business registry, Customs/national single window, infrastructure, power and energy, transparency in budget delivery, anti-corruption, information and communications technology governance framework, and judicial reform.

HB 942, which increases penalties for non-compliance with prescribed wages at present, seeks to amend the Labor Code-prescribed punitive clauses of two years’ imprisonment plus monetary penalties.

Lacson said increasing the incarceration period and empowering labor arbiters to arbitrarily garnish bank accounts and assets of employers are a violation of due process.

SB 80, mandating a 10-percent profit-sharing with workers before income tax, on the other hand, is confiscatory and unconstitutional, he said.

“By and large, employers are generous but we resent legislating our generosity. There will be chaos in the workplace during income-tax filing when workers question every line in the audited financial statement. Our generosity must pour out of our heart through compassion, not legislative compulsion,” Lacson said.

As for HB 6128, which seeks to increase maternity leave from the present 60 to 78 days to four months to six months, Ecop believes it would lead employers to discriminate against pregnant women.