Bello opposes proposed 2-year probationary period for workers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2019   •   282

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has opposed the proposal to extend the probationary period for workers from six months to two years, saying it is not necessary and will deny the workers’ right to security of tenure.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Bello said two years of probationary period is too long for a worker to secure a permanent employment which is against the administration’s policy of providing job security.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for a worker to undergo a probationary period of two years for an employer to determine his qualification. Six months is enough,” he said.

“Delaying a worker’s assurance of permanent employment is no longer in keeping with the administration’s policy on security of tenure,” he added.

Belo made the statement in response to a proposal filed by Probinsiyano Ako Party-list Representative Jose Singsong Jr. which states that six months probationary period is not enough to determine a worker’s qualification for regular employment.

Singsong’s proposal drew criticism from various labor organizations.

Under the current labor laws, workers are given a probationary period of six months and shall be considered a regular employee after the period lapses.

Belo said the proposal might lead to more cases of illegal practice of contractualization as employers can terminate the workers within two years. He stressed this would a worker’s right to statutory benefits as a regular employee.

Belo hopes the proposal will not be approved but if it hurdles the Congress, he will recommend a veto as this can be abused by employers.

“Assuming that it will be approved by Congress, if the President will ask the labor department, we will recommend a veto because this can be abused by employers,” he said in a separate radio interview.

DOLE, BSP back e-payment of wages for private workers

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have expressed support for the electronic payment of salaries through formal accounts for workers in the private sector.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, DOLE said the e-payment of salaries will help foster financial inclusion of private-sector workers and effectively monitor proper payment of wages.

According to Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, a 2017 Global Findex Report found that only 6.6 percent of the country’s private sector wage-earners received their salaries through a formal account which is a deposit or e-money account held in a supervised financial institution.

“A low financial inclusion among the wage earners may be a source of abuses against the workers and violations of labor laws as there can be difficulty in verifying and validating the payment of correct wages and other mandatory benefits,” he added.

Although there is no law or regulation yet on the use of e-payments, the department underscored its advantages for employers and workers.

“For the employers, electronic payment of salaries will not only cut the transaction, administration, and overhead costs but will also reduce the incidence of leakages during disbursements,” DOLE said.

“For the employees, meanwhile, a formal account translates to easy access to financial products, including savings, credit, insurance, and investment,” it added.

Among the groups in the workers’ sector identified by the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee which may immediately benefit from the electronic payment of wages are the construction workers, bus drivers and conductors, household workers, factory workers, and workers in the retail and service industries.

The DOLE said the value of the payment of wages and salaries through formal accounts has also been acknowledged in countries such as Thailand, Qatar, India, Finland, Singapore, and Bangladesh.

Bello tells OFWs: Be entrepreneurs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 15, 2019

Filipino household workers who were repatriated from Kuwait arrive at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, 21 February 2018. According to media reports, Cebu Pacific (CEB) airlines provided airlift support for at least 396 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were repatriated from Kuwait.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has advised seafarers and other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to go back to the Philippines and start their own business.

This was his message during the 2019 NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition on November 8. The competition is an annual search for the best business proposals among seafarers.

In his message read by Undersecretary Renato Ebarle, Bello assured seafarers that the government, together with the private sector and non-government organizations, is always ready to help OFWs towards productive reintegration.

The competition aims to provide start-up capital, training, and mentoring for the winners and their proposed businesses.

Seafarer Gary Esguerra was hailed as this year’s winner for his “green” slippers business proposal.

Esguerra aims to replace disposable slippers, commonly provided by hotels and resorts, with ‘greener’ slippers made from abaca residue as soles and by incorporating seeds inside the slippers.

He also said the slippers will decompose easier compared to the regular disposable slippers. Esguerra received P500,000 as start-up capital.

Meanwhile, NRCO OIC-Director Roel Martin announced that a similar business plan competition for land-based OFWs is set to be launched in the first quarter of 2020.—AAC

DOLE raises aid to P200-M for quake-hit workers in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday said it has raised to P200-million its initial employment assistance for workers who were hit by recent earthquakes in Mindanao.

Last month, three powerful temblors hit parts of Mindanao, killing more than 20 people and damaging thousands of infrastructures.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the livelihood assistance for workers in the informal sector is estimated to reach P500 million.

“We may need more than P500 million to cover all those needing assistance and emergency employment in the affected areas.”

In the meantime, he said DOLE can use up over P200 million of its available assistance fund.

He added that he has directed labor offices to expedite emergency employment for workers displaced by earthquakes.

“Last Sunday, I was in Davao City and met with our regional directors and (Occupational Safety and Health Center) Director Noel Binag, and we discussed the extent of the damage of the earthquake with other agencies,” Bello said.

DOLE earlier sent quick response teams to areas in Mindanao severely hit by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake to assess the situation, and provide assistance to the affected workers.

The labor chief further stated he has requested the board of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to approve the release of cash assistance to families of overseas Filipino workers, who are active OWWA members, in affected areas.

“The OWWA board has decided to give P3,000 per family of OFW in the areas hit by the earthquake, so, for those who have OFW relatives, please tell them that they are entitled to a financial assistance from OWWA,” he said.

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