Incoming Labor Secretary says contractualization 'not bad,' but laments 'endo' abuses

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2022 06:37 PM

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MANILA — Incoming Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Sunday said that there was nothing wrong with contractual employment, but lamented what he described as "abuse" in the non-regularization of contractual workers—colloquially known as "endo."

In an interview with ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, Laguesma said that contract jobs by themselves are not inherently bad, especially in project-based employment such as construction work.

He also noted that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are often employed contractually, acknowledging the existence of legitimate job contracting.

"Ang contractual employment ay hindi naman bad per se. Maraming ganiyan na umiiral. Kahit na construction, at isa sa mga pinakatipikal na halimbawa... Kung bawal po iyang contract engagement, eh papaano na ang ating mga OFWs?" he said.

(Contractual employment is not bad per se. A lot of jobs are contractual, even in construction, one of the most typical examples. If contract engagement would be discontinued, what would happen to our OFWs?)

Laguesma also said that the contractual work is also typical for companies that fall under the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME).

He lamented, however, the abuses done with "endo," such as the non-renewal of employment contracts due to an employee's supposed underperformance.

"Kung ikaw ay sumailalim sa tinatawag na probationary employment na 6 months, eh pagdating po ng 5th month and 29th day ay sabihin na hindi ka nag-qualify sa standard, iyon po ay abuso," Laguesma said. 

(If you were to undergo a 6-month probationary employment, and you are told at the 5th month and 29th day that you didn't meet their standards, that is abuse.)

Contractual employees, he said, must be told from the beginning about the standards and requirements they need to meet and accomplish during the probationary period. 

He added that under the law, these employees must be told on the third month about the status of their performance, so that there may be time to improve and satisfy the employer's requirements.

Laguesma also said that contractual work and subsquently "endo" is also tied to the issue of worker wages, adding that there is a delicate balance between giving employees tenure and operating these businesses.

Laguesma, who previously served as Labor Secretary under the administration of former President Joseph Estrada, has been selected by President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to return to the post. 

He had earlier said that he has yet to address "endo" issues among workers with the Department of Labor and Employment, adding that there is no "quick fix" to contractualization.