GR No. 167045 August 29, 2008
Cocomangas Hotel Beach Resort and/or Susan Munro
Federico Visca, Johnny Baredo, Ronald Tibus, Richard Visca, and Raffie Visca
Visca et. al., who worked for the maintenance and repairs of the petitioner, filed complaint against Cocomangas for illegal dismissal. They alleged that they were regular employees, but were eventually informed by Cocomangas not to report for work because they caused irritation and annoyance to resorts’ guests, and budgetary constraints. Eventually, they found out that Cocomangas hired new employees as their replacement.
Cocomangas alleged that there was no employer-employee relationship, and that Visca was an independent contractor who was called upon from time to time when repairs were needed.
Labor Arbiter ruled that Visca was an independent contractor, and that the other respondents were hired by him; and that there was no illegal dismissal but rather completion of projects; and that respondents were project workers, not regular employees.
NLRC affirmed the decision. CA reversed.
Whether or not Visca et. al. were regular employees.
Yes, Visca et. al. were regular employees.
A project employee is one whose “employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking, the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season.” Before an employee hired on a per-project basis can be dismissed, a report must be made to the nearest employment office, of the termination of the services of the workers every time completes a project, pursuant to Policy Instruction No. 20.
Visca cannot be classified as project employees, since they worked continuously for Cocomangas from three to twelve years without any mention of a project to which they were specifically assigned. While they had designations as foreman, carpenter and mason, they performed work other than carpentry or masonry. They were tasked with the maintenance and repair of the furniture, motor boats, cottages, and windbreakers and other resort facilities. There was likewise no evidence of the project employment contracts covering Visca’s alleged periods of employment. More importantly, there is no evidence that Cocomangas reported the termination of Visca’s supposed project employment to the DOLE as project employees. Department Order No. 19, as well as the old Policy Instructions No. 20, requires employers to submit a report of an employees termination to the nearest public employment office every time his employment is terminated due to a completion of a project. Cocomangas’ failure to file termination reports is an indication that Visca et. al. were not project employees but regular employees.
An employment ceases to be coterminous with specific projects when the employee is continuously rehired due to the demands of employers business and re-engaged for many more projects without interruption. Once a project or work pool employee has been: (1) continuously, as opposed to intermittently, rehired by the same employer for the same tasks or nature of tasks; and (2) these tasks are vital, necessary and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the employer, then the employee must be deemed a regular employee, pursuant to Article 280 of the Labor Code and jurisprudence.