The problem with a 2-year probationary period and a few solutions

  • A lawmaker is proposing to increase the 6-month probation to 2 years.
  • Probationary employees would be more vulnerable, particularly those who are advanced in age.
  • The measure will likely add to the diaspora of workers leaving for work abroad.
  • While the measure seeks to provide more ample time to determine suitability of a probationary to be a regular employee, the better solution would be to have different probationary periods based on classifications of work.

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The measure being proposed by a lawmaker to increase the probationary period of 6 months (or more accurately 180 calendar days) to 24 months or 2 years, will likely do more harm than good.

As it is, there are many managers who incorrectly think that they can terminate the employment of a probationary employer at-will. These managers end up realizing later on that they have exposed their companies to an illegal dismissal case since probationary employees have security of tenure, i.e. they cannot be dismissed without due process before the end of their probationary period. The operative word is “before” as probationary employment will expire on the last day of the testing period and the employment will terminate if the probationary employee fails to qualify for regular employment.

Worse, the result of the probation is kept until the last day or even last hour creating a lot of anxiety on the probationary employee who might find him/herself unemployed by the end of the business day. Getting another job is neither easy nor a fast thing to do. The employee, and anyone depending on him/her, will likely experience financial difficulties in the days or weeks to follow.

Given this context, and the low quality jobs and compensation, more will likely be enticed with the working abroad futher contributing to the diaspora.

While the measure seeks to provide more ample time to determine suitability of a probationary to be a regular employee, the better solution would be to have different probationary periods based on classifications of work.

We already have it in our current labor laws. We can simple expand them.

For instance, teachers in the private sector have 2 years probation for elementary and secondary education, and 3 years probation for tertiary education. There is also apprenticeships that exceed the 6-month probation, which is allowed so long as the requirements for apprenticeships are complied.

Hence, if the objective is to give more time to the testing phase, then we can have further additional classifications, which may justify a longer probationary period. These may found in highly-technical occupations, such as operating heavy machineries, scientific or laboratory work, and analogous thereto. There should be a justification for these industry to pass the muster of ay challenge on the ground of equal protection.

However, for office-based work, there is hardly no justification for the increase of the 6-month probation. The period is sufficient to determine one’s suitability. It is neither too long nor too short for either the employer to make an assessmment, or the employee to prove his/her suitability for regular employment. What kind of office-based job would require 2 years of probation?

In summary, the increase of probationar periody should not be across the board. Instead, it should be done on certain industries wherein an increase in probationary period may be justified due to the nature of the work.