Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday sponsored Senate Bill No. 1629 or the “First-time Jobseekers Assistance Act" under Committee Report No. 191 which exempts fresh graduates from paying government fees and charges on documents needed for their job application.
First-time jobseekers include fresh graduates, students who have taken leaves of absence and those who are not engaged in employment or education.
The measure, which the senator dubbed as “Kontra-Tambay” bill, aims to address the uncertainty being faced by fresh graduates on their school-to-work transition, and to shoulder the cost of fees and charges in acquiring government documents.
According to a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank entitled, “Are Filipino Youth Off to a Good Start?”, the school-to-work transition for many young Filipinos is associated with change, waiting, and uncertainty.
Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, further shared that it usually takes a high school leaver up to 3 years to find a first job while it takes a college graduate 1 year to find a first job. The ADB study also said that regulations and restrictions on employment arrangements is one of the strong factors influencing their school-to-work transition.
“Kontra-tambay ang panukalang batas na ito dahil kahit papaano, mapapabilis ang paghihintay ng mga fresh grad na dumating iyong swerte o tamang pagkakataon sa kanila,” Villanueva said during his sponsorship speech.
The senator further cited some of the pre-employment documents a fresh graduate needs which include: (1) Police Clearance Certificate; (2) NBI Clearance (3) Barangay Clearance; (4) Medical Certificate; (5) Birth and/or Marriage Certificate; (6) Tax Identification Number; and (7) Other documentary requirements issued by the government that may be required by employers for first-time jobseekers.
Villanueva noted that fees and charges for the said documents may cost up to P2,000. This does not include other expenses for food, fare, printing, and appropriate clothing for job interviews.
“Nililinaw po natin na ang pagtatanggal ng mga bayarin ay para lamang sa mga kababayan nating hindi pa nagkaroon ng trabaho o unang beses pa lang na mag-a-apply ng trabaho. Mr. President, sa pagsusuri natin, mabigat po ang bayaring ito sa mga first-time jobseekers na financially dependent pa sa kanilang mga magulang o nakakatatandang kapatid o kamag-anak na kumikita na,” the senator explained.
The proposal does not include though the fees for passport application, driver’s license, and PRC license as these identifications are not usually required by employers.
Also, the proposed exemption shall only be availed of one time during the one-year period from date of graduation or date that the first-time jobseeker left school.
The bill, if passed into law, would greatly benefit around 600,000 fresh graduates annually.
According to Jobstreet's 2017 Fresh Graduates Report, the average salaries of ten highest paying jobs for fresh graduates - legal services, healthcare, journalism, information technology, banking services, among others amount to P21,936.
In the BPO sector, an employee who earns as much as P234,000 annually pays tax amounting to P7,900. The senator said this amount would already recoup the charges and fees the government would shoulder should the proposal be passed into law.
“Kung magkakatrabaho po kaagad ang ating mga kabataan at hindi sila tambay, makikibabang po ang lahat, lalo na ang kanilang pamilya na umaasa sa kanila, at mas sisigla pa ang ating ekonomiya,” Villanueva said.