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.

Continue reading

December 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law

Here are select December 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law:

Appeal; NLRC; accredited bonding company; revocation of authority is prospective in application. The respondents filed a surety bond issued by Security Pacific Assurance Corporation (Security Pacific) on June 28, 2002. At that time, Security Pacific was still an accredited bonding company. However, the NLRC revoked its accreditation on February 16, 2003.  This subsequent revocation should not prejudice the respondents who relied in good faith on the then subsisting accreditation of Security Pacific. In Del Rosario v. Philippine Journalists, Inc. (G.R. No. 181516, August 19, 2009), it was held that a bonding company’s revocation of authority is prospective in application. Nonetheless, the respondents should post a new bond issued by an accredited bonding company in compliance with paragraph 4, Section 6, Rule 6 of the NLRC Rules of Procedure, which states that “[a] cash or surety bond shall be valid and effective from the date of deposit or posting, until the case is finally decided, resolved or terminated or the award satisfied.” Wilgen Loon, et al. v. Power Master, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 189404, December 11, 2013.

Appeal; NLRC; bond; jurisdictional. Paragraph 2, Article 223 of the Labor Code provides that “[i]n case of a judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the NLRC in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from.”  Contrary to the respondents’ claim, the issue of the appeal bond’s validity may be raised for the first time on appeal since its proper filing is a jurisdictional requirement. The requirement that the appeal bond should be issued by an accredited bonding company is mandatory and jurisdictional. The rationale of requiring an appeal bond is to discourage the employers from using an appeal to delay or evade the employees’ just and lawful claims. It is intended to assure the workers that they will receive the money judgment in their favor if the employer’s appeal is dismissed. Wilgen Loon, et al. v. Power Master, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 189404, December 11, 2013.

Continue reading

January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select January 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC); Requisites for perfection of appeal; Joint declaration under oath accompanying the surety bond; Substantial compliance with procedural rules.  There was substantial compliance with the NLRC Rules of Procedure when the respondents PAL Maritime Corporation and Western Shipping Agencies, Pte., Ltd. filed, albeit belatedly, the Joint Declaration Under Oath, which is required when an employer appeals from the Labor Arbiter’s decision granting a monetary award and posts a surety bond.  Under the NLRC rules, the following requisites are required to perfect the employer’s appeal: (1) it must be filed within the reglementary period; (2) it must be under oath, with proof of payment of the required appeal fee and the posting of a cash or surety bond; and (3) it must be accompanied by typewritten or printed copies of the memorandum of appeal, stating the grounds relied upon, the supporting arguments, the reliefs prayed for, and a statement of the date of receipt of the appealed decision, with proof of service on the other party of said appeal.  If the employer posts a surety bond, the NLRC rules further require the submission by the employer, his or her counsel, and the bonding company of a joint declaration under oath attesting that the surety bond posted is genuine and that it shall be in effect until the final disposition of the case.

In the case at bar, the respondents posted a surety bond equivalent to the monetary award and filed the notice of appeal and the appeal memorandum within the reglementary period.  When the NLRC subsequently directed the filing of a Joint Declaration Under Oath, the respondents immediately complied with the said order.  There was only a late submission of the Joint Declaration.  Considering that there was substantial compliance with the rules, the same may be liberally construed.  The application of technical rules may be relaxed in labor cases to serve the demands of substantial justice. Rolando L. Cervantes vs. PAL Maritime Corporation and/or Western Shipping Agencies, Pte., Ltd.  G.R. No. 175209. January 16, 2013.

Continue reading

September 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select September 2012 rulings of the Philippine Supreme Court on labor law and procedure:

Breach of contract; Contract substitution; Constructive dismissal; Illegal recruitment. The agency and its principal, Modern Metal, committed a prohibited practice and engaged in illegal recruitment when they altered or substituted the contracts approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Article 34 (i) of the Labor Code provides: It shall be unlawful for any individual, entity, licensee, or holder of authority to substitute or alter employment contracts approved and verified by the Department of Labor from the time of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of expiration of the same without the approval of the Secretary of Labor. Meanwhile, Article 38 (i) of the Labor Code, as amended by R.A. 8042, defined “illegal recruitment” to include the substitution or alteration, to the prejudice of the worker, of employment contracts approved and verified by the Department of Labor and Employment from the time of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the expiration of the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment.

Furthermore, the agency and Modern Metal committed breach of contract by providing substandard working and living arrangements, when the contract provided free and suitable housing. The living quarters were cramped as they shared them with 27 other workers.  The lodging house was far from the jobsite, leaving them only three to four hours of sleep every workday because of the long hours of travel to and from their place of work, not to mention that there was no potable water in the lodging house which was located in an area where the air was polluted.  They complained with the agency about the hardships that they were suffering, but the agency failed to act on their reports.  Significantly, the agency failed to refute their claims.

Continue reading

August 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select rulings of the Philippine Supreme Court on labor law and procedure:

Disability benefits; entitlement. Entitlement of seafarers to disability benefits is governed not only by medical findings but also by contract and by law. By contract, Department Order No. 4, series of 2000, of the Department of Labor and Employment and the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement bind the seafarer and the employer. By law, the Labor Code provisions on disability apply with equal force to seafarers. The seafarer, upon sign-off from his vessel, must report to the company-designated physician within three (3) days from arrival for diagnosis and treatment. For the duration of the treatment but in no case to exceed 120 days, the seaman is on temporary total disability as he is totally unable to work. He receives his basic wage during this period until he is declared fit to work or his temporary disability is acknowledged by the company to be permanent, either partially or totally, as his condition is defined under the POEA Standard Employment Contract and by applicable Philippine laws. If the 120 days initial period is exceeded and no such declaration is made because the seafarer requires further medical attention, then the temporary total disability period may be extended up to a maximum of 240 days, subject to the right of the employer to declare within this period that a permanent partial or total disability already exists. The seaman may of course also be declared fit to work at any time such declaration is justified by his medical condition.

From the time Tomacruz was repatriated on November 18, 2002, he submitted himself to the care and treatment of the company-designated physician. When the company-designated physician made a declaration on July 25, 2003 that Tomacruz was already fit to work, 249 days had already lapsed from the time he was repatriated. As such, his temporary total disability should be deemed total and permanent, pursuant to Article 192 (c)(1) of the Labor Code and its implementing rule. Philasia Shipping Agency Corporation, et al. vs. Andres G. Tomacruz. G.R. No. 181180, August 15, 2012.

Continue reading

July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select July 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Dismissal; due process.  Due process requirement is met when there is simply an opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side even if no hearing is conducted. An employee may be afforded ample opportunity to be heard by means of any method, verbal or written, whether in a hearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way. After receiving the first notice apprising him of the charges against him, the employee may submit a written explanation (which may be in the form of a letter, memorandum, affidavit or position paper) and offer evidence in support thereof, like relevant company records and the sworn statements of his witnesses. For this purpose, he may prepare his explanation personally or with the assistance of a representative or counsel. He may also ask the employer to provide him copy of records material to his defense. His written explanation may also include a request that a formal hearing or conference be held. In such a case, the conduct of a formal hearing or conference becomes mandatory, just as it is where there exist substantial evidentiary disputes or where company rules or practice requires an actual hearing as part of employment pre-termination procedure.

Continue reading

June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select June 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippine on labor law and procedure:

Appeal; issue of employer-employee relationship raised for the first time on appeal. It is a fundamental rule of procedure that higher courts are precluded from entertaining matters neither alleged in the pleadings nor raised during the proceedings below, but ventilated for the first time only in a motion for reconsideration or on appeal. The alleged absence of employer-employee relationship cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. The resolution of this issue requires the admission and calibration of evidence and the LA and the NLRC did not pass upon it in their decisions. Petitioner is bound by its submissions that respondent is its employee and it should not be permitted to change its theory. Such change of theory cannot be tolerated on appeal, not on account of the strict application of procedural rules, but as a matter of fairness. Duty Free Philippines Services, Inc. vs. Manolito Q. Tria. G.R. No. 174809. June 27, 2012.

Dismissal; abandonment. Abandonment cannot be inferred from the actuations of respondent. When he discovered that his time card was off the rack, he immediately inquired from his supervisor.  He later sought the assistance of his counsel, who wrote a letter addressed to Polyfoam requesting that he be re-admitted to work.  When said request was not acted upon, he filed the instant illegal dismissal case.  These circumstances clearly negate the intention to abandon his work. Polyfoam-RGC International, Corporation and Precilla A. Gramaje vs. Edgardo Concepcion. G.R. No. 172349, June 13, 2012.

Continue reading