HR Series: Latest Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Cases

What and how to learn from others’ mistakes and commission

By former DOLE Undersecretary, Atty. Josephus Jimenez, DPM

He wrote these two books which is useful for any beginner HR:

First, we must remember that in the Philippines, there are four layers of arbitration — Labor Arbiter with NLRC and DOLE, filing of case and making of position papers, Court of Appeals for 60 days. Supreme Court 15 days.

There are no problem employees. There are employees with problems!

If you hire the wrong people, you cannot cure the people even with training or moving them around.

Look at the CHARACTER — He will not fit in the organization. Pangit ang maarte at makulit.

Here are 10 Philippines HR cases to avoid:

1. More than 100 pax died on a fire in Valenzuela

The company attorney lost because he filed a motion for reconsideration after losing in the Regional Director Department of Labor Money Claims. He should have instealed appealed in the Office of Secretary.

If you lose with the regional director, they should appeal in the Office of Secretary, not motion for reconsideration. Lost via technicality.

2. Lost because HR did not know how to compute for backwages

The case ran from 2012 to 2019 so backwages ran super high.

Backwages for illegal termination must be paid by HR if they lose the case from the time the case ran, plus 6% compounded annually (tax free).

3. If OFW was illegally dismissed, the agency should still pay backwages for the unexpired portion of the contract

Contract must be signed in the Philippines for the agency to protect the staff.

4. Redundancy plan does not have criteria. In the absence of any criteria — LIFO, Performance based system, etc. — the redundancy program became a cleansing process.

Remember to give a 30 day advance notice and separation pay before separating the company.

6. Loss of trust must be proven. There’s two ways of trust — character and competence.

Avoid removing people for their lack of competence.

It’s better to remove people if loss of trust with GROSS AND HABITUAL NEGLECT OF DUTIES.

For example, a bus company driver terminated someone because their eyesight has an issue. The HR used termination and dismissal. Dismissal is traumatic because there’s an act done that’s punishable by law.

They should have used separation for a medical condition.

7. Overhiring caused a problem. You need to have a reorganization plan first. Don’t remove just because you made a mistake.

8. Separation pay can be given in lieu of reinstatement.

Can pay 1 month for every year of service.

9. If you are aged 60 and above and have been in the company for 5 years, you can go for optional retirement. The option belongs to the employee not the employer.

The company decided to retire him at the age of 62. The order was backwages paid plus retirement pay.

Why did management lose despite the best lawyers?

Lack of information about the law.

If they say 10 days, that’s calendar days not working days. If you don’t file, justice delayed means a loss of case.

You need to ensure that documentation is properly made.

Judges need DATE, Signature and Page.

You need to review your labor laws. There’s 7 books — Recruitment, Human Resource Development, Wage and Benefits, Health/Disease/Death, Collective Bargaining Agreement, Termination of Employment (Resignation, Retrenchment, etc), Technical Matters.

You should not rely the destiny of the company to the hands of the lawyers.

HR is in charge of people from hiring to the firing.

So you have to be responsible.

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