SM Investment Corp. (SMIC), the holding firm of the Sy family, is unfazed by the presidential candidates’ vow to end job contractualization, saying that they would abide by the law and find ways to survive.
SMIC President Harley Sy, speaking to reporters after the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Wednesday, said that the conglomerate is not in any way engaged in contractualization of employees, commonly known as “endo,” a scheme by which employees are hired for less than six months, and thereafter terminated to avoid their employment from ripening into regular employment.
“For the record, we deny that we are hiring on a contractual basis. That is purely speculative. In fact, we are one of the country’s biggest employers,” Sy said.
Under the law, “contractual employees” are those who render services under a contract, which particularly stipulates the period of employment and will not ripen into regular employment. Meanwhile, “seasonal” employees are those engage to work during a particular season in an activity that is usually necessary or desirable to the trade or business of employers.
Although hiring on a contractual basis is legally allowed, the Supreme Court, in a long line of cases, held that contractual hiring becomes “illegal and unconstitutional” when the same employee is repeatedly hired by the same employer and for the same purpose every after each employment contract expires.
Sy explained that SMIC does hire “seasonal” employees, which the holding company needs depending on the period of the year and demand for additional workforce, especially during Christmas season, other holidays, and during the opening of classes.
“Seasonal employment is actually a good opportunity for people who need flexibility,” he said.
“There is this speculation among many people that we do the five, five, five [i.e., five month employment contracts to avoid the six-month mandatory regularization]. We do not do that, we hire seasonal workers in addition to our regular employees,” Sy added.
“We need a lot of people, especially when the demand so requires like during the Christmas season and opening of the school year. Seasonal employment is validly allowed under our laws,” he added.
At present, SMIC has a total of 65,439 employees, regular and probationary combined, across SMIC, SM Retail, SM Prime, BDO and China Bank.
“In the event that the next government ends contractualization, we will abide by the law and find ways to survive,” Sy said.
On Sunday, during the last presidential debate, all five candidates vying for the country’s top post said they are against the practice of job contractualization, and vowed to end it if elected.