LMTs for the 2023 Labor Law Bar Examination

1) Employer-employee relationship

Four-fold test (Selection and engagement; Payment of wages; Power of dismissal; and Power to control the employees’ conduct.)

Employee’s burden of proving existence of employment relation: “Before a case for illegal dismissal can prosper, an employer-employee relationship must first be established.” (Ginta-Ason v. J.T.A. Packaging Corp., G.R. No. 244206, March 16, 2022.)

Re: Power of Control: “An employer’s power of control, particularly over personnel working under the employer, is deemed inferred, more so when said personnel are working at the employer’s establishment.” (Parayday v. Shogun Shipping Co., Inc., G.R. No. 204555, July 6, 2020.)

2) Independent Contractor

“It is the burden of the employer to prove that a person whose services it pays for is an independent contractor rather than a regular employee with or without a fixed term.” (Fuji Television Network, Inc. v. Espiritu, G.R. Nos. 204944-45, December 3, 2014)

3) Contracting Arrangements

Elements of Labor-Only Contracting

  • The contractor merely supplies workers only to a principal;
  • The activities performed by the workers are directly related to the main business of the principal;
  • The contractor does not have substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, machinery or work premises, to carry out the contracted job or service.

4) Illegal Recruitment

To constitute Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale, three elements must concur:

  • The accused undertook any recruitment activity defined under Art. 13 (b) or any prohibited practice enumerated under Art. 34 of the Labor Code.
  • He did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers.
  • He committed the same against three or more persons, individually or as a group.

Re: Substituting or Altering Employment Contracts Without Approval

To fall within the ambit of the prohibition, the alteration should put the worker at a disadvantage. If the alteration is beneficial to the worker, the prohibition will not apply.
The reason is because the parties are not prohibited from entering into a contract which provides for benefits over and above those required by law.

5) Management Prerogatives

Prerogative to terminate employment vis-à-vis security of tenure: “All surrounding circumstances must be considered and the penalty must be commensurate to the violation committed by an employee. Termination of the services of an employee should be the employer’s last resort especially when other disciplinary actions may be imposed.” (Lamadrid v. Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, G.R. No. 200658, June 23, 2021.)

6) Entitlement to Labor Standards

Note those excluded, for instance: The right to retirement benefit is not available to: (a) employees who have not rendered service for at least five (5) years; and (b) employees of retail, service, and agricultural establishments regularly employing not more than ten (10) workers.

7) Burden of Proving Certain Money Claims

  • In determining the employee’s entitlement to monetary claims, the burden of proof is shifted from the employer or the employee, depending on the monetary claim sought.
  • On claims for payment of salary differentials, service incentive leave, holiday pay, and 13th month pay, the burden rests on the employer to prove payment.
  • On the other hand, for overtime pay, premium pay for holidays and rest days, the burden is shifted on the employee, as these monetary claims are not incurred in the normal course of business. It is thus incumbent upon the employee to first prove that he actually rendered service in excess of the regular eight working hours a day, and that he, in fact, worked on holidays and rest days. (Zonio v. 1st Quantum Leap Security Agency, Inc., G.R. No. 224944, May 5, 2021.)

8) Special Types of Employees

Expect questions on any of the following: domestic workers, solo parents, persons with disability, and seafarers

Re: Seafarers, remember that under the POEA-SEC, he/she should submit to “a mandatory post-employment medical examination within three (3) working days upon his/her arrival.” (Cabatan v. Southeast Asia Shipping Corp., G.R. No. 219495, February 28, 2022.)

Failure of the seafarer to comply with the mandatory reporting requirement shall result in his forfeiture of the right to claim benefits.

9) Right to Self-Organization / Collective Bargaining

A Union Security Agreement is a stipulation in a CBA which requires employees covered by the collective bargaining unit to become members of the contracting union and to maintain their union membership in good standing as a condition for continued employment.

While government-owned or controlled corporations without original charters are covered by the Labor Code of the Philippines, employees of said government-owned or controlled corporations are bereft of any right to negotiate the economic terms of their employment, i.e., salaries, emoluments, incentives and other benefits, with their employers since these matters are covered by compensation and position standards issued by applicable law. (GSIS Family Bank Employees Union v. Villanueva, G.R. No. 210773, January 23, 2019.)

10) Unfair Labor Practices

  • Article 258 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, unfair labor practices are violative of the constitutional right of workers to self-organize.
  • The person who alleges the unfair labor practice has the burden of proving it with substantial evidence.
  • In determining whether an act of unfair labor practice was committed, the totality of the circumstances must be considered. If the unfair treatment does not relate to or affect the workers’ right to self-organize, it cannot be deemed unfair labor practice. (Adamson University Faculty and Employees Union v. Adamson University, G.R. No. 227070, March 9, 2020.)

11) Strikes

  • The Labor Code of the Philippines and its implementing rules limit the grounds for a valid strike to: (1) a bargaining deadlock in the course of collective bargaining, or (2) the conduct of unfair labor practices by the employer.
  • Only a certified or duly recognized bargaining representative may declare a strike in case of a bargaining deadlock. However, in cases of unfair labor practices, the strike may be declared by any legitimate labor organization. (Bigg’s, Inc. v. Boncacas, G.R. Nos. 200487 & 200636, March 6, 2019.)

12) National Interest Disputes

  • Once the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction over a labor dispute, a strike, whether actual or intended, is automatically enjoined.
  • If a strike has been declared, the strikers must return to work even if they filed a motion for reconsideration of the assumption order.
  • The moment a striker defies a return-to-work order, he is deemed to have abandoned his job. It is already in itself knowingly participating in an illegal act.
  • Considering that an illegal act was committed, all strikers, whether union officers or plain members, may be declared to have lost their employment status. (Rodriguez v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., G.R. Nos. 178501 & 178510, January 11, 2016.)

13) Just Causes

A question may be given on any of the just causes.

Re: Serious Misconduct: Misconduct, as a ground for dismissal, must be serious or of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant. (G & S Transport Corp. v. Medina, G.R. No. 243768, September 5, 2022.)

14) Authorized Causes

A question may given on any of the authorized causes.

Re: Redundancy: To successfully invoke a valid dismissal due to redundancy, there must be:

  • A written notice served on both the employees and the DOLE at least one month prior to the intended date of termination of employment;
  • Payment of separation pay equivalent to at least one month pay for every year of service;
  • Good faith in abolishing the redundant positions; and
  • Fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining what positions are to be declared redundant and accordingly abolished.
  • Moreover, the company must provide substantial proof that the services of the employees are in excess of what is required of the company. (Teletech Customer Care Management Philippines, Inc. v. Gerona, Jr., G.R. No. 219166, November 10, 2021.)

15) Resignation

  • Resignation is the formal pronouncement or relinquishment of a position or office.
  • It is the voluntary act of an employee who is in a situation where he believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the service, and he has then no other choice but to disassociate himself from employment.
  • The intent to relinquish must concur with the overt act of relinquishment. (Bance v. University of St. Anthony, G.R. No. 202724, February 3, 2021.)

16) Constructive Dismissal

  • There is constructive dismissal when an employer’s act of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee so as to foreclose any choice on his part except to resign from such employment. It exists where there is involuntary resignation because of the harsh, hostile and unfavorable conditions set by the employer. The standard for constructive dismissal is “whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have felt compelled to give up his employment under the circumstances.”
  • However, “not every inconvenience, disruption, difficulty, or disadvantage that an employee must endure sustains a finding of constructive dismissal.”
  • What is vital is the weighing of the evidence presented and a consideration of whether, given the totality of circumstances, the employer acted fairly in exercising a prerogative. (Dela Torre v. Twinstar Professional Protective Services, Inc., G.R. No. 222992, June 23, 2021.)

17) Quitclaims

  • While an employee may indeed accept his dismissal and agree to waive his claims or right to initiate or continue any action against his employer, both parties do not have the jurisdiction or authority to determine the legality of such termination; such question of law is still subject to the final determination of the competent labor tribunals and courts, as the case may be.
  • It follows then that the award of nominal damages, which by its nature, arises from the determination of a violation of the employee’s rights in an illegal dismissal case, cannot be deemed to be covered by the quitclaim. (Dela Torre v. Twinstar Professional Protective Services, Inc., G.R. No. 222992, June 23, 2021.)

18) Jurisdiction of the LAs vs Regional Director

  • Article 128 of the Labor Code of the Philippines speaks of the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Labor and his representatives over labor standards violations based on findings made in the course of visitation and inspection of the business premises of an employer.
  • The authority under Article 128 may be exercised by the Department of Labor and Employment regardless of the amount of the award claimed for provided there exists employer-employee relationship. (Del Monte Land Transport Bus, Co. v. Armenta, G.R. No. 240144, February 3, 2021.)

19) Appeals

  • The requisites laid out by Mcburnie v. Ganzon also presupposes a sixth requirement: that the National Labor Relations Commission issue an express ruling on the appellant’s motion to reduce bond.
  • Whether the National Labor Relations Commission accepts or rejects the appellant’s motion to reduce bond, the ruling must be unequivocal, and such ruling must be issued before or at the time the Commission resolves the appeal by final judgment.
  • Failure to do so shall render the National Labor Relations Commission liable for grave abuse of discretion for having ruled on an appeal without acquiring jurisdiction over the same, and the judgment it had issued shall be vacated as null and void. (Pacific Royal Basic Foods, Inc. v. Noche, G.R. No. 202392, October 4, 2021.)

20) Liberal Application of the Rules

  • A liberal interpretation of the rules is primarily granted for the employee’s favor, and not the employer.
  • In the common scenario of an unaided worker, who does not possess the necessary knowledge to protect his rights, pitted against his employer in a labor proceeding, the former cannot be expected to be perfectly compliant at all times with every single twist and turn of legal technicality.
  • As an additional aid therefore, a liberal interpretation of the technical rules of procedure may be allowed if only to further bridge the gap between an employee and an employer. (Reyes v. Rural Bank of San Rafael (Bulacan), Inc., G.R. No. 230597, March 23, 2022.)

Hope they help. Best of luck!