July 26, 2017

Joint Circular No. 1, s. 2017, which was jointly issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), aims to protect Job Order (JO) and Contract of Service (COS) workers while recognizing the need for government agencies to hire personnel on temporary basis.

The CSC issued this clarification in response to reports that the said joint circular promotes illegal labor contractualization (‘endo’), contrary to the thrusts of the present administration.

The CSC said that the circular allows the procurement of services of JO and COS workers to ensure the continuous and efficient delivery of government programs and services, such as in the implementation of projects requiring personnel with skills or expertise not available in the agency, or implementation of time-bound projects or tasks which renders the hiring of permanent employees impractical and more expensive.

The CSC clarified that the joint circular actually limits the engagement of services of JO and COS workers only for temporary projects or activities. The said policy defines Contract of Service as “the engagement of the services of an individual, private firm, other government agency, non-governmental agency or international organization as consultant, learning service provider or technical expert to undertake special project or job within a specific period.”

On the other hand, Job Order is defined as “piece work (pakyaw) or intermittent or emergency jobs such as clearing of debris on the roads, canals, waterways, etc. after natural/man-made disasters/occurrences and other manual/trades and crafts services such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical and the like. These jobs are of short duration and for a specific piece of work.”

“Both JO and COS workers should not be made to perform functions which are part of the job description of existing regular employees. They also cannot be designated to positions tasked to control or supervise regular or career employees,” the CSC said.

Moreover, the CSC stressed that the joint circular further protects the rights of JO and COS workers by defining the fair wages that should be paid to said individuals. Item 8 provides that COS workers shall be paid the prevailing market rates, while services of JO workers shall be paid an amount equivalent to the daily wage or salary of comparable positions in government, plus a premium of up to 20%.

Review projects

The Commission said that the joint circular should prompt agencies to review their existing projects and determine which are temporary and which can be considered as part of their regular functions. “Agencies that find their current plantilla inadequate may consider submitting to the DBM a request for the creation of new permanent positions that will perform regular functions,” it said.

Agencies should also assess their current organizational structure and staffing to check for vacancies. The CSC said that, in the filling up of vacant positions, Item 11.1 of the joint circular provides: “Existing Contract of Service or Job Order workers shall be given priority in the appointment by the agency to its vacant positions.”

However, the Commission stressed that entry to government service should be made only according to merit and fitness. “Applicants to these vacancies should meet the appropriate eligibility and other Qualification Standards of the position, subject to existing civil service law and rules,” the CSC said.

Effectivity

The CSC clarified that government agencies are given until December 31, 2018 to comply with the joint circular. Until that date, they may continue to honor or renew the contracts of existing JO and COS workers.

Starting January 1, 2019, however, hiring of JO and COS workers should already comply with the provisions of the joint circular. Heads of agencies and/or responsible officers may be administratively charged under existing civil service law and rules should they be found violating the joint circular.

The COA is tasked with checking possible irregularities in the procurement of JO and COS services.