Bleak employment scenario
After a long Holy Week break, it’s back to the salt mines for the country’s workforce. A similar work respite would become available only at the end of the year.
Those who are gainfully employed, especially if they are well compensated, have reason to look forward to reporting for work again. They are, in a manner of speaking, blessed.
For the unemployed, the search for employment continues and the prospects for success look bleak at present.
For the underemployed, holding on to their jobs while discreetly scouting for better employment opportunities would have to be the name of the game. They have to console themselves with the reality that, at least, the low-paying or uninspiring work helps put food on the table. That’s better than nothing.
The optimism that greeted the resumption early this year of close to prepandemic business operations, with the anticipation of a substantive employment turnaround, may soon fade.
In a recent media release of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), it foresaw that, based on its 2023 first quarter survey on business expectations, many businesses are putting on hold their expansion and hiring plans for the coming months.
With interest rates expected to remain on the high side as the BSP tries to bring down inflation to manageable levels, many businesses seem to be hedging their bets on the growth of the country’s economy.
For them, a wait-and-see attitude would be the part of discretion. Not that they are segurista (or risk averse), they just prefer to first see how things fan out before they commit their available resources to the expansion of their operation.
This cautious posture should be a matter of serious concern for those presently employed and, more so, the unemployed.
It’s a “buyer’s market” right now in the business sector. With few jobs available compared to the thousands seeking employment, and whose number is expected to rise when the graduation period comes, employers can afford to be choosy in their recruitment of employees or be strict with employment policies.
Unless an employee has certain qualifications or expertise that is not easy to find, the “no one is indispensable” rule would continue to be observed in most businesses.
This means, those who are presently employed should not presume or work under the impression that they are assured of continued employment come what may.
They have to consistently prove to their employer that they can accomplish their assigned tasks and are worth the money they’re paid for their services if they want to keep their jobs.
While it is true that employees enjoy security of tenure under the Labor Code, i.e., they can only be removed for a valid or just cause after due process, or where applicable, are covered by collective bargaining agreements, there are ways and means by which employers can legally demote, suspend or terminate employees who, in their judgment, do not meet the performance standards of their work.
And even if there are available work positions in other companies engaged in the same or related business, dismissed employees may not find it easy to be reemployed there because the HR (human relations) offices of those companies often exchange notes about employment issues.
In business-specific organizations, word quickly spreads around among their members on who their problematic employees are and should be guarded against in case they apply for employment elsewhere in the group. That blacklist, although illegal, is quietly passed around.
With thousands of semiskilled and supervisory level employees displaced because of the pandemic looking for jobs, there would be no dearth of replacements for employees who had been given pink slips for work-related reasons.
Hopefully, the hesitation of many businesses to go full blast with their expansion and hiring plans would dissipate soon to enable more Filipinos to enjoy less stressful lives. INQ
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