January 2014 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law

Here are select January 2014 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law:

Backwages; when awarded. As a general rule, backwages are granted to indemnify a dismissed employee for his loss of earnings during the whole period that he is out of his job. Considering that an illegally dismissed employee is not deemed to have left his employment, he is entitled to all the rights and privileges that accrue to him from the employment. The grant of backwages to him is in furtherance and effectuation of the public objectives of the Labor Code, and is in the nature of a command to the employer to make a public reparation for dismissing the employee in violation of the Labor Code.

The Court held that the respondents are not entitled to the payment of backwages. The Court, citing G&S Transport Corporation v. Infante (G. R. No.  160303, September 13, 2007) stated that the principle of a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor” remains as the basic factor in determining the award thereof.  An exception to the rule would be if the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed or otherwise illegally prevented from working.  It is, however, required, for this exception to apply, that the strike be legal, a situation which does not obtain in the case at bar. Visayas Community Medical Center (VCMC) formerly known as Metro Cebu Community Hospital (MCCH) v. Erma Yballe, et al.,G.R. No. 196156, January 15, 2014

Dismissal; burden of proof on employer. The burden is on the employer to prove that the termination was for valid cause. Unsubstantiated accusations or baseless conclusions of the employer are insufficient legal justifications to dismiss an employee. “The unflinching rule in illegal dismissal cases is that the employer bears the burden of proof.”

One of CCBPI’s policies requires that, on a daily basis, CCBPI Salesmen/Account Specialists must account for their sales/collections and obtain clearance from the company Cashier before they are allowed to leave company premises at the end of their shift and report for work the next day.  If there is a shortage/failure to account, the concerned Salesmen/Account Specialist is not allowed to leave the company premises until he settles the same. In addition, shortages are deducted from the employee’s salaries. If CCBPI expects to proceed with its case against petitioner, it should have negated this policy, for its existence and application are inextricably tied to CCBPI’s accusations against petitioner. In the first place, as petitioner’s employer, upon it lay the burden of proving by convincing evidence that he was dismissed for cause. If petitioner continued to work until June 2004, this meant that he committed no infraction, going by this company policy; it could also mean that any infraction or shortage/non-remittance incurred by petitioner has been duly settled. Respondents’ decision to ignore this issue generates the belief that petitioner is telling the truth, and that the alleged infractions are fabricated, or have been forgiven. Coupled with Macatangay’s statement – which remains equally unrefuted – that the charges against petitioner are a scheme by local CCBPI management to cover up problems in the Naga City Plant, the conclusion is indeed telling that petitioner is being wrongfully made to account. Jonas Michael R. Garza v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils., Inc., et al.,G.R. No. 180972. January 20, 2014.

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