The term “probationary period” will be removed, but not really.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clarified Thursday that while it is disallowing the use of the term “probationary period” in overseas employment contracts, recruitment agencies may still retain the concept “in essence”.
POEA deputy administrator Hans Leo Cacdac told GMANews.TV in a phone interview that agencies will no longer be allowed to include a probationary period in their contracts. He however added that they may still specify a certain period for foreign employers to assess overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
“It’s just the term ‘probationary period’ that we’re disallowing, but in essence, it will still be there,” Cacdac admitted.
Recruitment agencies had earlier slammed the POEA’s plan to remove the probationary period in overseas employment contracts, threatening that they will stop processing papers for new workers unless the implementation of the new policy is put on hold.
In a press release, recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani said the POEA has not consulted recruitment agencies and foreign employers on the new policy.
“A probationary period of three to six months is standard in most countries of destinations in Asia, Middle East, and Europe which the POEA and recruitment agencies adopted many decades ago since the private sectors took over the recruitment industry in the early 80’s,” Geslani stated.
He added the period differs according to country, and is sometimes part of a country’s labor laws.
New workers are usually placed on probationary status for a definite period, during which companies assess the workers’ performance and decide whether to retain them or discontinue their employment.
If the provision is removed from the contracts, Geslani explained, “almost all agencies will be subject to illegal dismissal cases filed by workers who did not pass the probationary period or qualify.”
Foreign employers will object to the new policy, which may thus lead to a decline in the hiring of new workers, he added.
Cacdac, however, said agencies will still be allowed to indicate a specific period in contracts when employees may be removed, but only under standards agreed upon by the employer and the employee.
“The probationary period gives the employer a free hand in terminating employees. Contracts must ensure that Filipino workers will be terminated only for just causes,” Cacdac explained.
He admitted, though, that employers may still dismiss their employees during the specified period, provided that just causes for termination are enumerated in the contract, to which the employees agreed.
“The situation will be similar to the probationary set-up,” Cacdac added.
The term “probationary period” is misleading, he further explained, because in the context of Philippine labor, the period is immediately followed by either termination or permanent employment.
OFWs are usually on a fixed-term employment contract of one or two years.
Despite the criticism, the POEA will issue a resolution on the new policy on a yet unspecified date, which will take full effect following its publication on major newspapers as required by the law, Cacdac said.
By Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMANews.TV