The issue of contractualization has been a long-standing concern in the Philippines, particularly in the labor sector. Contractualization refers to the practice of hiring workers on a contractual basis rather than regular employment, which has been used by many businesses to avoid providing employee benefits and to cut labor costs.
In 2018, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Department Order No. 174, which aimed to regulate the use of contractualization and to protect the rights of workers. The order prohibited businesses from hiring workers on a contractual basis unless there is a specific job, project, or seasonal work that is short-term in nature. In such cases, the contract should specify the duration and the tasks to be performed. The order also required businesses to provide benefits and security of tenure to contractual workers who have been employed for longer than six months.
However, in 2019, DOLE issued another order, Department Order No. 197, which relaxed the regulations on contractualization. The new order allowed businesses to hire workers on a contractual basis, as long as the contracts were in compliance with existing labor laws and regulations. This move was met with criticism from labor groups, who argued that it undermined the gains made by the previous order.
As of present, the legal status of contractualization in the Philippines is still a contentious issue. The government and labor groups continue to clash over the issue, with the latter pushing for the total abolition of contractualization, while the former argues that it is necessary for businesses to remain competitive and to create jobs.
Despite the disagreements, it is essential to remember that contractualization affects the lives of millions of Filipino workers. It is crucial to ensure that labor policies and regulations protect the rights of workers and promote fair and just labor practices. Contractual workers deserve the same benefits and security of tenure as regular employees and should not be treated as disposable labor.