THE PROPOSAL to extend employees’ probation period to two years from the current six months has no chance of approval in the Senate, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Wednesday.

Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose C. Singson, Jr. filed House Bill No. 4802, which he said intends to enable employers to further train and assess whether employees meet job demands.

Asked about its chances in the Senate, Mr. Sotto told reporters “palagay ko malabo (I think chances are slim that that bill will be approved).”

Senate Minority leader Franklin M. Drilon, for his part, had earlier said the bill will be “dead on arrival.”

Mr. Sotto agreed, saying in jest: “malamang, baka sa ambulansya pa lang, on the way, hindi on arrival, on the way (It will likely die in the ambulance on the way, not on arrival).”

The bill sought to amend Article 296 of Presidential Decree No. 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines, by stretching the allowable period for probationary employment up to 24 months. Mr. Singson argued in the explanatory note of the bill that the currently prescribed six months is “insufficient,” particularly in positions that require specialized skills.

Mr. Sotto, however, said the proposal will worsen contractualization in the country, which Congress has been trying to address through tighter restrictions on contracting.

Mr. Sotto said he does not agree with the bill “sapagka’t ang pinaguusapan nga natin alisin ang contractualization (because we are actually looking at the end of contracting),” he said.

Ito parang pinapalapad mo ‘yung contractualization, pinapahaba mo lalo (Under this bill, you are prolonging contracting periods).”

A bill setting stricter contracting controls was approved in the last Congress but was vetoed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte due to provisions employers objected to. The bill had been refiled both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, respectively by Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Rep. Raymund Democrito C. Mendoza. Both are now being discussed at the committee level.

Sought for comment on the move to prolong employees’ probation period, a senior official the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a telephone interview on Wednesday: “We were not consulted on that, so we have nothing to do with that bill; and as a matter of fact, we are trying to see what is really the value of that bill.”

“Offhand, wala naman kaming naririnig o nagku-complain (we have not heard any complaint) whether from the employer or the labor side na maikli ‘yung six months (that the current six-monthy probation period is too brief).”

For the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP, “the bill will have a very negative impact sa mga (on) workers because… mas lalawakyung poverty gap (it will worsen poverty as workers concerned will not be entitled to benefits given to regular employees,” ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay said in a telephone interview.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III in an Oct. 19 statement opposed the proposal, saying it will deny workers their right to security of tenure. He said the two-year probation is “too long” and is not in accordance with the Duterte administration’s policy. — Charmaine A. Tadalan