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Just a backstory, I'm a fresh grad who applied for a junior developer position from small company and got offered a project-based job, which I accepted hesitantly. I am new to the industry and I don't know much about contracts or how project-based contract works that's why I am uncertain as to whether I should accept the offer or not. The contract is supposed to last for 5 months, from June to October. To make sure, I asked our HR on what will happen if the contract ended. In a reassuring way, our HR stated that:

  1. Most of the employees after the contract has ended will either be promoted to probationary or to regular employee directly. As long as we do good in our job ( finish tasks on time, go to work in time, listen to our tech lead, etc.)

  2. Or the contract will be renewed depending on the needs of the company's client.

It took me some time to consider the job offer, and eventually I accepted it (confidently knowing that I will be able to do well on the job and be promoted after the end of the contract).

Fast forward, I enjoy working with my team and seniors. They are one of the reasons why I love my current job. The staffs and people around the company are nice too. I also think I'm doing well on my job since I am able to finish my deliverable on time and communicate well with the team. The salary is okay but below expectations (maybe because I'm a fresh grad). But as trainee, I only have allowance as 'benefit'.

Now, the problem is that my contract has already ended more than a month ago. I don't know what my current employment status is. I'm still going to work as usual, doing tasks, etc. I still get paid as well. I've already brought this up to my boss and to our HR but the response is always 'Wait'. I've asked them a lot of times since my contract ended but this is what they always say to me. They don't have any other explanations and this makes me uncertain on what their plan for me is, or what are the reasons as to why it is taking so long.

I really want to have a salary increase + additional benefits that's why I am eager to learn of what my employment status will be. At this point, I'm getting tired asking on my contract since I always get the same answer. As I've stated before, I love my team but the salary and benefits are below expectations. I don't know if it is wise for me (a fresh graduate) to leave my current job and now look for other jobs, or just wait and hopefully something happens.

EDIT 11/26/2019: Some answer and comment suggested that while I'm still in my current job, I should also start looking for a new one. While I think that is the most sensible and beneficial thing for me to do, is it right that I look for other jobs while I'm still "working" in my current one? I feel like I'm backstabbing my co-workers and the company if I do that.

EDIT 11/27/2019: Hi everyone! I just want you to all know how much I value your feedback and it helps me a lot to look things at a different perspective. Your comments and answers really did challenge my current way of thinking regarding work. I've always thought that while I'm bound to the my current job, I should no longer look for other job/opportunities. But I guess this is a wrong way of thinking. From now on, I will be open to new and possibly better opportunities that may help my career grow, and also may help me grow as a better person.

Regarding on my decision to my current work, I talked to my manager and he said that He has already requested for my regularization. I will give the HR or company until mid-week of December, but if there's still no progress, then I guess it's time for me to move on and look for a better job and company. I will update you all once I made my decision. Maraming salamat!

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    What is your country/state/locality? – Matthew Gaiser Nov 26 '19 at 3:30
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    I live in Metro Manila, Philippines. My work is also around the area. – donotexecuteorder66 Nov 26 '19 at 3:38
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    Do you really mean "leave my current job and now look for other jobs"? I would do it the other way round. Start looking for a better job while continuing to work at your current job. Don't decide to leave until you have at least one offer that is better than your current job. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 26 '19 at 9:07
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    Always look for a new job while having a job. Always. – Orejano Nov 26 '19 at 10:16
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    "I feel like I'm backstabbing my co-workers and the company if I do that." - is that the co-workers in HR who are refusing you legitimize your employment with a contract? Or is it the company who is still exploiting you for profitable work without compensating you the way they promised? Just want to clarify who you think you're backstabbing here. – Bilkokuya Nov 26 '19 at 10:36
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A lot depends on the legal framework. I'm unfamiliar with the legal framework in the Philippines, so I can only offer general advice. I'll start out with an example, so that you know what kind of things to look for.

In the Netherlands a contract does not 'renew automatically' and you should sign a new contract. An employer is legally obligated to tell you in writing that they don't want to renew to contract, at least a month before the contract ends. If they are late, they must pay you for a month after notifying you. If your contract end date has passed without notification and your manager schedules work for you past your contract end date (and you show up and get paid), or if everybody simply forgets, then that is considered a 'silent renewal' for the same duration as your initial contract. HR telling you to wait (and not giving you a letter that tells you to stop working and go home) would be considered an explicit renewal of the contract.

The above is all Dutch law that cannot be superseded by the contract, the contract can only contain more favorable terms, such as a clause that explicitly states that silent renewal is the norm, or that the next contract will be permanent.

Essentially, two things matter:

  • What is the legal framework?
  • What does the contract specify - and are those clauses enforceable?

If you do not get a satisfactory answer via The Workplace, I suggest you speak to people in your network. Speak to business owners you, or your family members, are familiar with. Read internet stuff, but never trust a single source. If you have the funds, speak to an employment lawyer for an hour. Get your money's worth - create a list of questions about general employment law. If the final conclusion is that your employer is taking advantage of you, it would be advisable to find a different one.

This is your first job - it's entirely normal to run into these kind of questions. And it's a good time to study a little employment law. At minimum you need to have a feel for where the law (or your contract) looks out for your rights and in what situations you'll need to take action yourself. Are there general rules that apply, or must each contract be evaluated separately? You'll need that understanding more than once during your career.

Edit 2019/11/26 ~11:30:

In the edit to the original post, the OP expresses his trepidation about finding a new job while working the current job. Additionally, I had missed the information about the OP working for an 'allowance' and a salary that is potentially way below market rates.

This sounds as if you are conveniently (for your employer), really cheap for the work you do. The company may thus have an incentive to keep you working under the current terms, which I would personally consider exploitation. If the company is doing this deliberately, pressuring HR will not help.

Leaving a team that you like for a new job feels like cheating on your wife. I feel really guilty every time. Telling my first 'real' employer that I found something better felt like an active betrayal of all that they had given me. That sense of loyalty is admirable, but you should put it in perspective. It is often misplaced - your loyalty is to the people, but the company does not care about you - only about the work you do. Work is a huge part of your life, but also a simple transaction: You put in time, they give you money. If you can get a better job, you should seriously consider switching. If the new company feels like a good fit you will make new friends there.

Most importantly: Looking for a new job while employed is not a betrayal, but self-preservation. It gives you the luxury of finding something nice, rather than finding something that pays the rent. It helps to understand that your boss is doing this to himself: You like the work, you like the team. If you liked the pay enough, you would not be looking for a new job.

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    You clearly stated that this refers to Dutch law but I fear that the general idea 'in case of doubt, interpret in the most beneficial way for the employee' does only hold in Western Europe. My guess would be that OP is in some completely non-binding agreement here which either side can just stop without any repercussions. There is no contract, so OP could just stop showing up for work and the employer could just stop paying here. – quarague Nov 26 '19 at 10:25
  • Good point! The example does not touch upon a lot of the nasty bits of Dutch employment law (seasonal work, project-based contracts, secondment), but rather the stuff I had to learn about my contract during my first 'grown-up' job. However, I wanted something to illustrate the benefit of educating yourself about this stuff early in your career. – TvZ Nov 26 '19 at 10:37
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In the situation you describe, it is better to prepare for the worst. That means, start looking for new (better) jobs.

Whether you will remain at your current job, or you will go to a new one, will only be a matter of choosing the better option. What is better? You need to find the answer yourself ;)

If you wait until the end of the contract, you risk remaining without a job.

Additionally, having secured another job, you can better negotiate the new contract at the current job. For you, it will be a win either way.

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You have a contract. The fact that your employer didn't tell you "goodbye, don't come back", and the fact that they allow you to come in and work, mean that you have an implicit contract.

The terms of an implicit contract are a bit hard to determine, but it agrees with your countries laws (so they have to pay you sick pay if you get ill), and if it went to court, it would be about the same terms as other employees in a similar situation with a contrct had. There is no promise by either you or the company how long that contract will last.

If they finally come through with a contract, you will insist that your pay will be the same for the whole period since your first contract ended. The same if you leave before you have a new contract.

About looking for a new job: You always, always, ALWAYS, look for a new job while you are still employed. There is a notice period in your contract (if you had one, since they didn't give you a written contract, that's their problem), and that notice period is designed so that the employer or employee don't suffer from an unexpected end of the contract. There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting to look for a new job while still employed. In your situation, it is actually very wrong NOT to start looking right now, because you could be out tomorrow.

When you find a new job, you sign a new contract with a start date matching your notice period, then you go to your company and give your notice according to the legal requirements in your country and what's written in your contract. In your case, according to the legal requirements in your country.

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    The first 2 paragraphs require massive [citation needed] as this is a lot of legal opinions you've given there that may very well be wrong. – Tymoteusz Paul Nov 26 '19 at 11:48
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You do not work until there is an active contract in place.

In fact, it might even be illegal to work without a contract. I could even imagine a scenario in which you unintentionally perform some mistakes/malpractices during your daily work routine, and since formally you're not even employed there, the company could throw you under the bus and demand you to reimburse them for the damage done, or even go as far to sue you.

Discussing morality lies in a domain different from employment rules, laws and practices, and it is for the better that way.

EDIT:

Taking into account that grey-areas such as this one might be common in your country, as well as authorities being lenient about enforcing laws or issuing fines against grey-areas such as this one, you might choose to continue working as usual despite not being bound by a contract (and more importantly, without having your employer be bound by a contract). However, in that case, I would strongly suggest being very careful about misconducts from either party. If you notice that the employer gradually becomes less pedantic and timely in fulfilling their obligations to you as an employee, it might be a foretelling sign of an eventual intent to quickly and easily remove you from from the company, if it so happens that such a thing becomes desirable to them.

I would also advise being very careful about not causing any misconducts from your side: as someone who is technically not employed there, causing damage to any of your employer's equipment or any of the intellectual property (by, lets say, handling client-facing communication imprecisely with regard to what your superiors would like client-facing communication to look like), it becomes extra easy and extra beneficial to your employer to just throw you under the bus.

  • You touch upon a few good points that the OP should certainly consider. However, whether or not the OP should actively worry about them depends entirely on the legal framework as it stands in the Philippines. You might be causing them undue worry. – TvZ Nov 26 '19 at 10:17

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