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Holiday season employment

/ 04:01 AM December 10, 2019

With Christmas just around the corner, businesses that can enhance the celebratory spirit of Filipinos for the season are in a “temporary employment” mode and employment agencies are reaping its fruits.

Extra hands are needed to produce and deliver the delicacies that traditionally grace family tables on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Restaurants employ additional cooks and waiters to meet increased demands to cater to parties at homes and offices.

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Since this is the time of the year when sales of goods are at their peak, malls and shopping centers beef up their staff with contractual or temporary employees to attend to the customer rush.

For these employees (or “temps” as they are sometimes called), their employment during the holiday season may be described as a bittersweet experience.

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Bitter because they know it is not permanent; they will keep their jobs, at best, only until a week after the New Year. Sweet because the money they would earn could make the holiday celebration happier for their families.

After the holiday season, unless they have a change of fortune, the majority of the “temps” would be back on the streets looking for jobs. Considering the present tight employment situation, that search may not be easy.

This scenario brings to mind the decades-old campaign of labor organizations to put an end to “contractualization” or the practice of some employers of employing workers in five-month periods to avoid their gaining regular employment status and enjoying the benefits that go with it.
The abolition of this illegal practice is one of the campaign promises of then presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (the other being the elimination of the drug problem) that propelled him to the presidency.

In its initial effort to live up to that promise, the administration issued in 2017 Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 174 ordering, among others, employment agencies to give the employees they assign to client-employers employment benefits that regular employees are entitled to.
Their regular employment status in the employment agency is supposed to “compensate” for the shortcomings of their temporary employment in the client-employer.

That order, however, did not satisfy the labor sector because it fell short of its demand for security of tenure.
In the wake of widespread protests, the President, saying he had limited powers to address the problem, asked Congress to enact a law that would put an end to contractualization.

Acting on the President’s declaration of urgency, Congress passed the Security of Tenure bill in July 2019. Although labor organizations were not completely sold to its provisions, they urged (and expected) him to sign it into law.

Their expectations came to naught. Upon the advice of his economic managers who said its enactment would be detrimental to the country’s economy, Mr. Duterte vetoed the bill. He asked Congress to come up with another version that would be acceptable to all the affected parties.

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Apparently miffed by the veto of a bill the President earlier certified as urgent, the lawmakers had, to date, taken their sweet time in coming up with a revised edition. So it’s back to square one for the labor sector’s campaign to end contractualization in the country.
With the way things are moving, it’s doubtful if a compromise bill can be arrived at anytime soon by business and labor that would reconcile their differences. Or none at all.

Under these circumstances, it would be advisable for contractual or temporary employees who have found employment this season (no matter how short) to look at their employment as an opportunity to show to their employers their capacity for work, or that they deserve to continue to be employed in any capacity that fits their qualifications.

In a manner of speaking, they already have a foot in the door of their employment and it may fully open if they do their assigned work well. INQ

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