This research dwells on a legal analysis of law and jurisprudence affecting employees who were dismissed illegally albeit in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, The Labor Code of the Philippines and existing jurisprudence.
This research speaks on the relationship between an employee and an employer who signed a contract. Such contract will determine if the agreed parties have set terms and conditions and bound to have legal effect. However, the company or institution laid down separate rules and established stringent procedures aside from the mentioned remedies given to a dismissed employee. As a result, the contract between the parties was based more on the provisions of the company or the institution and not the external provisions. Such external provisions are the mandate of the state to afford full protection to labor so that employers do not belittle the employee’s constitutional rights.
Further, this research particularly seeks questions as to why an employer dismissed an employee illegally without valid legal grounds. Thus, due process is not met in such termination and the employee has no opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side. There are many civil cases filed in the Supreme Court or lower courts with regard to the dismissal of employees and result to the moral and exemplary damages that was paid to them. Moral damages are for their mental anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and sleepless nights, and exemplary damage to discourage other employers from doing the same thing.
Lastly, these dismissed employees have a full protection from illegal dismissal through the remedies of the Philippine existing laws and jurisprudence. Though, the prerogative and wider latitude of discretion of an employer is sometimes the basis for the dismissal of such employees. Most of the cases were decided in favor of labor and many companies were directed to reinstate illegally dismissed employees to their positions without loss of seniority rights and to pay them with full back wages and other reliefs, like attorney’s fees and moral damages in some instances. There were others, however, that were won by management in cases that were found without merit.
An employer in the Philippines cannot easily terminate an employee since employment is a property right protected by the 1987 Philippine constitution, special laws, and existing jurisprudence laid down by courts. However, the employment practices in the Philippines deals with wrongful termination and breach of contract of such employee. Substantive and procedural due processes have to be observed. Otherwise, the employer may be held liable for illegal dismissal.
The common practice in the Philippines is the situations wherein an employee has no right to continue such service since there are no terms on the right of the workers to security of tenure. Further, these mentioned situations will lead to the unfair dismissal of an employee, and thus, it pertains to one of the concern issues in labor law. The Labor Code of the Philippines covers the illegal dismissal of an employee and under Article 279 of the said code, as amended, security of tenure has been construed to mean as “the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by the said code. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.”
The prerogative of the company to hire and terminate will end where the workers’ right to security of tenure and the due process begins. The employers have the right and inherent freedom to discipline their employees and to terminate their employment, other than the Constitution and the Labor Code have laid down strict rules of the employer on the just and authorized causes for exercising such extreme option, as well as established stringent procedures for the manner of dismissing people. For what is involved in such situations is not just work or occupation, but a livelihood, the source of living of the worker involved, and his family.
The law recognizes the nature of employee’s employment which depends on the contract agreed upon by the employer and the employee. Employers are not prohibited from terminating the employment contract of their employees and employees are also allowed to terminate their contracts with the company they are working with. However, in case of dismissal of an employee, it should be emphasized that there must be a legal basis for the termination of such contract and must be done in a lawful manner.
The employment agreement voluntarily agreed between an employer and an employee shall state and define the conditions of such employment. The following are the nature of employment:
- Regular or casual
- Fixed-period of term
These kinds of nature of employment may differ due to different reasons. For regular employment, the employer benefits from a full-time employee who in turn will receive all statutory and company benefits. The benefits they will receive are subsidized health care, paid vacations, holidays, sick time, or contributions to a retirement plan. A regular employee is one who has been engaged to perform activities which are “usually necessary or undesirable in the usual business or trade of the employer”. The definition of a regular employee in the Labor Code of the Philippines does not clearly define the duties and responsibilities of the employee. The phrase “usually necessary”, may mean differ as to the case for every kind of regular employee and the usual norm of the responsibilities is to clean the office or prepare coffee. These have been the common practice in numerous labor complaints.
Meanwhile, in probationary employment, the employer has the opportunity to assess the performance of the employee who will prove that he is suitable for the position in a six month period. As for project, fixed-term or term, seasonal, and casual employment, the employer and the employee mutually benefit from an arrangement where they will be committed to continuing employment after the expiration of the project, term, season, or incidental activity.
A casual employee who has rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which he is employed and his employment continues while such activity exists. A probationary employee is a disciplinary procedure as the purpose of the probationary period is to establish the employee’s suitability for the job. In the period of employment, where there is an allegation of serious misconduct against a probationary employee, the matter will be investigated in accordance with the due process through the disciplinary procedure. There are instances that investigation has not made and results in the immediate termination of the employee where in fact the employee has not made any wrongdoing. This is due to the fact that the fault may be given to the manager who is responsible for signing off the probationary period or another appropriate manager if the company will not terminate the employee.
A project employee may perform in a continuous rehiring of the project employee event after the cessation of a project and the tasks performed by the alleged project employees is vital, necessary, and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the employer. On the other hand, Employees on fixed term or specified purpose contracts who fail to meet the required standards of performance or conduct may have their employment terminated within the contract period and depends on the circumstances of the particular case of the contract, it can be the employee’s length of service or the nature of the unsatisfactorily performance or misconduct. As a basis, there are sometimes potential employees appointed for a fixed term or specified purpose contract wherein their employers are terminated their contract immediately without assessing the employee’s performance.
The employment of an employee, despite their nature, is an issue in a labor dispute and need to clearly determine through well-crafted employment contracts and company policies. The concern on the controversial issue of the unfair dismissal has been expressed by the government and that some unfair dismissal procedures demand law and jurisprudence. The concept of unjustifiable and unfair dismissal to provide statutory protection against employees will order to strike balance between management autonomy and the protection of the workers’ security of tenure in employment. This analysis will allow employees to challenge their termination at the initiative of the employer on the basis that it was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.
- Illegally Dismissed Employees
This study clearly provides remedies of the existing laws and jurisprudence of such illegally dismissed employees. The due process of dismissal shall observe and there must be a legal basis for such termination, this must be one of the grounds for termination as stated in the employment contract signed by the employer and the employee. Hence, the illegal dismissal of an employee should cover by existing laws of the state and the rules or regulations imposed by the employer.
The due process requirement is met when there is an opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side of both parties. Both parties may be afforded ample opportunity to be heard by means of any method such as verbal or written for a just and reasonable way.
Further, the Philippine Constitution says, no involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. In view of the prohibition on involuntary servitude, an employee is given the right to resign under Article 285 of the Labor Code. The provision recognizes two kinds of resignation – without cause and with cause. If the resignation is without cause, the employee is required to give a thirty-day advance written notice to the employer, to enable the employer to look for a replacement to prevent work disruption. If the employee fails to give a written notice, he or she runs the risk of incurring liability for damages. The same provision also indicates the just causes for resignation (with cause):
- Serious insult to the honor and person of the employee;
- Inhuman and unbearable treatment;
- Crime committed against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of the employee’s family; and
- Other analogous causes.
In the second type of resignation, the employee need not serve a written notice. Forced resignation is not allowed and is considered “constructive” dismissal – a dismissal in disguise. Employee retirement is either voluntary or compulsory under Article 287 of the Labor Code.
The mentioned remedies and the existing laws and jurisprudence will govern in case an employer mistreats people in a company or institution. Further, employers may have the right to terminate an employee, but employers cannot terminate indiscriminately. As stated in article 19 of the Civil Code, every person in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties must act with justice, give every one his due and observe honesty and good faith.
Lastly, the termination of an employee must be based on a just cause, they should have given the employee a written notice informing the ground for dismissal as well as a subsequent notice informing of their final decision to terminate such employment.
The Labor Code of the Philippines, the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and the existing jurisprudence has been the protection or remedies of an employee who was illegally dismissed.
This study briefly examines the unfair dismissal of an employee and to show that the due process is not difficult to adhere for employers. Identifying the reason why an employee was dismissed is essential to be the basis on any of the just or authorized causes stated under the laws and jurisprudence in the Philippines. Just causes are blameworthy acts on the part of the employee such as serious misconduct, willful disobedience, gross and habitual neglect of duties, fraud or willful breach of trust, the commission of a crime and other analogous causes as stated in Article 282 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.
The researcher conducted this study for the assessment of existing laws and jurisprudence. The questions mainly in this study are whether the mentioned remedies will protect the employee’s right to security of tenure or whether the laws and jurisprudence will not violate the existing legal provisions for the dismissal of an employee and there are laws that will also protect employers in the dismissal of employees.
Authorized causes of illegal dismissal have of two types: first, business reasons and second, disease. The business reasons are an installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment, and closure or cessation of operation as stated in Article 283 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. Before the employer can terminate employment on the ground of disease, he must obtain from a competent public health authority a certification that the employee’s disease is of such a nature and at such a stage that it can no longer be cured within a period of six months even with medical attention as stated in Article 284 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and the Implementing Rules of Book VI under the Labor Code of the Philippines.
This study is focused on discussions regarding the law and jurisprudence that will govern to an employee particularly those employees in the private sector whose dismissals are illegal. Such laws are the 1987 Philippine Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and special laws that took effect upon carefully scrutinize by legislators. On the other hand, the doctrines or principles laid down by the Courts in the Philippines are the jurisprudence used in this study.
This study is also limited to the equality of rights exists between employer and employee relationship. While the employer cannot force the employee to work against his or her will, neither can the employee compel the employer to continue giving him or her work if there is a lawful reason not to do so. Thus, the employer may terminate the services of an employee for just or authorized causes after following the procedure laid down by law, but the employer has the burden of proving the lawfulness of the employee’s dismissal in the proper forum. Further, the factors that determine the issue include who has the power to select the employee, who pays the employee’s wages, who has the power to dismiss the employee, and who exercises control of the methods and results by which the work of the employee is accomplished.
Lastly, those hired on a temporary basis, such as for a “term” or “fixed period” are not regular employees, but are “contractual employees.” Consequently, there is no illegal dismissal when their services are terminated by reason of the expiration of their contracts. Lack of notice of termination is of no consequence because a contract for employment for a definite period terminates by its own term at the end of such period. Further, this study examines the manner of dismissal to an employee who is illegally dismissed regardless of what specific function such employees are involved. Whether employees prerogative or personal reasons.