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COA scolds Batangas over failure to regularize, pay minimum wage of contractual workers

Sep 24, 2019 @ 12:12

by Allan Yves Briones

The Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the provincial government of Batangas over its hiring of 813 Job Order (JO) workers, a number of whom were paid below the minimum wage, and have not been regularized since 2008.

“It is given that hiring additional manpower through job orders not only helps them acquire a decent job but also helps the government in the execution of various programs and activities of the various offices. However, there should be standards and limitations set…to ensure that the actual needs are resolved and proper distribution of the number of JOs is observed,” COA said.

In the 2018 annual audit report, COA explained that JOs or contractual workers, as per Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 17 s. 2002, function under a type of employment deprived of a employee-employer relationship which covers jobs not exceeding six months.

Under the law, JOs also do not enjoy benefits enjoyed by government employees.

According to the 2018 annual audit report, Batangas currently employs 3,526 employees, of which 23.06 percent or 813 are JOs worth P68.35 million. At the Office of the Vice Governor, in particular, the total number of JOs is reportedly more than the number of regular employees.

Audit records disclosed that the most common JOs are employed as administrative aides, totaling 629 in service of various local offices.

“It was noted that the standard rate given to Administrative Aide is P300.00 only, with the exclusion of Data Encoders which has a rate of P350.00. This shows that the daily minimum wage of P373.00 set by the Department of Labor and Employment was not observed,” COA said.

Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Province of Batangas

Despite the lower pay, JOs are reportedly required to provide an eight-hour service – a rate, according to state auditors, that can be seen as “unfair.”

In addition, the JO master list revealed that out of the 813 contractual workers, 547 have already served past the six-month limit, with the oldest having been hired in 2008.

COA ordered Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas to ensure that salaries are in accordance with the minimum wage, and that the Human Resource Management Office provide a criteria for deserving JOs to be employed as permanent employees.

According to Mandanas, the adjustment on salaries will be effected next year.

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