Probationary period is usually six (6) months. An employee who has served the employer for at least six months shall become regular employee by operation of law.
A probationary employee, as understood under the Labor Code, is one who is on trial by an employer during which the employer determines whether or not he is qualified for permanent employment. A probationary appointment is made to afford the employer an opportunity to observe the fitness of a probationer while at work, and to ascertain whether he will become a proper and efficient employee. The word probationary, as used to describe the period of employment, implies the purpose of the term or period but not its length. (International Catholic Migration Commission vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 72222, January 30, 1989, 169 SCRA 606.)
Being in the nature of a trial period the essence of a probationary period of employment fundamentally lies in the purpose or objective sought to be attained by both the employer and the employee during said period. The length of time is immaterial in determining the correlative rights of both in dealing with each other during said period. While the employer observes the fitness, propriety and efficiency of a probationer to ascertain whether he is qualified for permanent employment, the probationer, on the other, seeks to prove to the employer, that he has the qualifications to meet the reasonable standards for permanent employment.
It is well settled that the employer has the right or is at liberty to choose who will be hired and who will be denied employment. In that sense, it is within the exercise of the right to select his employees that the employer may set or fix a probationary period within which the latter may test and observe the conduct of the former before hiring him permanently
Article 296 [formerly Article 281 prior to renumbering] of the Labor Code, as amended, provides that probationary employment shall not exceed six (6) months from the date the employee started working, unless it is covered by an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period. The services of an employee who has been engaged on a probationary basis may be terminated for a just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with reasonable standards made known by the employer to the employee at the time of his engagement. An employee who is allowed to work after a probationary period shall be considered a regular employee.
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This provision states that the period shall not exceed six (6) months. It can be for a lower period. Thus, the employer and employee may agree to three (3) months probationary status of employee. Oftentimes, parties stipulate for a six-month trial period but the employer declares the employee regular after just a period of two months when he becomes satisfied of his performance.
Hence, the objective of this arrangement is to determine the fitness of employee for regularization at a certain period of time. The process of becoming regular involves voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary occurs when parties agree to a certain trial period before the employee becomes permanent. It may also happen when the employer agrees to shorten this period.
Involuntary on the other hand takes place when the employee although engaged in a written agreement as “probationary” was not informed of the standards for regularization. He is considered regular from day one.
Related: Know the Different Forms of Employment in the Philippines
In Clarion Printing House, Inc vs. NLRC, [500 Phil. 61 (2005)] the CA stated that where an employee hired on probationary basis was not informed of the standards that would qualify her as a regular employee, she was deemed to have been hired from day one as a regular employee.