THE Senate will continue plenary deliberation on the bill penalizing labor-only contracting when the legislative session resumes in May, targeting final approval by the time Congress adjourns on June 7.

The chamber closed plenary debate on Senate Bill No. 1826, or the “Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act,” on Feb. 6 and is set to tackle amendments at plenary level before second reading. Its counterpart measure, House Bill No. 6908 has already hurdled third and final reading on Dec. 2017.

When asked about the chances of the bill passing, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told BusinessWorld over the phone on Sunday, “I hope so. Best effort.”

The Security of Tenure bill has been identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council as a priority. It was also among the measures President Rodrigo R. Duterte pushed for during his Third State of the Nation Address in July 2018.

Senator Joel J. Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, confirmed in a separate phone message the bill will be taken up in the plenary upon resumption of session on May 20.

Congress is currently on a Feb. 9-May 19 break to accommodate the midterm elections on May 13. It will resume from May 20 to June 7, which gives both Houses three weeks or nine session days to tackle remaining legislative measures. Any unfinished bills will have to be refiled in the 18th Congress, which opens on July 22.

“Once we resume session in May, the period of amendments on the SoT (Security of Tenure) bill will commence. We remain committed to push for its passage to finally give stronger protection to our laborers,” Senator Villanueva told BusinessWorld in a separate phone message Sunday.

“I am certain that my colleagues in the Senate are equally willing and ready to work with us in pushing for a genuine reform for workers’ rights.”

The bill will amend Presidential Decree No. 442, or the “Labor Code of the Philippines,” by prohibiting labor-only contracting and defines penalties for noncompliance.

The bill considers a working arrangement to be labor-only contracting when: a job contractor, whether licensed or not, merely recruits and supplies or places workers to a contractee, regardless of whether or not he or she has substantial capital; the workers recruited are performing activities which are directly related to the principal business of such an employer; and if the workers of the job contractor are under the control and supervision of the contractee.

“The Senate Committee Report on Security of Tenure introduced several amendments to the current provisions of the Labor Code to further protect the rights of our workers, such as emphasizing that labor-only contracting is absolutely prohibited,” Mr. Villanueva said.

He added the bill will also be “requiring all contractors to secure a license from the DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and providing requirements to be issued such license, as well as simplifying the classification of workers to regular (which includes project and seasonal employees) and probationary employees.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan