Labor Law: Elements of Employer-Employee Relationship

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What are the elements of employer-employee relationship?

The Supreme Court has repeatedly enunciated in its cases, such as in Lirio vs. Genova (G.R. No. 169757, November 23, 2011) the elements of employer-employee relationship, to wit:

Before a case for illegal dismissal can prosper, it must first be established that an employer-employee relationship existed between petitioner and respondent.

The elements to determine the existence of an employment relationship are: (a) the selection and engagement of the employee; (b) the payment of wages; (c) the power of dismissal; and (d) the employers power to control the employees conduct. The most important element is the employers control of the employees conduct, not only as to the result of the work to be done, but also as to the means and methods to accomplish it.

It is settled that no particular form of evidence is required to prove the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Any competent and relevant evidence to prove the relationship may be admitted.

The determination of the existence of employer-employee relationship is very important, as it also affects the issue on jurisdiction on the part of Labor Arbiter, and the claims that the parties are praying for.

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Civil Law: Accession – Builder/Planter/Sower

frompexelIn the Civil Code provisions governing property law, one chapter discusses Accession (Article 440, onwards).  In a nutshell, the owner of the property has the right of accession (right to fruits) to everything produced by the property itself, or those which are incorporated and attached thereto, either naturally or artificially.

The chapter on Accession contains the provision on Builder/Planter/Sower, to wit:

Art. 448. The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith, shall have the right to appropriate as his own the works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in Articles 546 and 548, or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay the price of the land, and the one who sowed, the proper rent. However, the builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value is considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land does not choose to appropriate the building or trees after proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease and in case of disagreement, the court shall fix the terms thereof.

Such provision, including the meaty jurisprudence centering on such concept (e.g. Cheng vs. Donini), can be summarised as follows:

Case A:  If both the owner and the builder/planter/sower (hereinafter referred to as “BPS”) are in good faith:  There is no co-ownership.  The owner owns the property (e.g. land), and the BPS owns that which he built or planted (e.g. building).  However, the owner has the following remedies:

  • To appropriate that which was built or planted (e.g. building) as his own, after paying the BPS the amount of indemnity (i.e. expenses) in Articles 546 and 548; or
  • To compel the BPS to pay the price of the land (if B or P), or the rent (if S).

It is very important to note that it is the owner who makes the determination or choice.  If he does not make the decision, the parties remain status quo — BPS remains the owner of that which was built/planted/sowed.  Moreover, the BPS remains the possessor in good faith, and as a possessor in good faith, he has the right to fruits of the property (e.g. rentals in the building).  This is so because of Article 544 of the Civil Code, to wit:

Art. 544. A possessor in good faith is entitled to the fruits received before the possession is legally interrupted.
Natural and industrial fruits are considered received from the time they are gathered or severed.
Civil fruits are deemed to accrue daily and belong to the possessor in good faith in that proportion.

BPS also has the right of retention over that which was built/planted/sowed, and such right remains until the owner reimburses him for the amount of expenses mentioned in Articles 546 and 548, to wit:

Art. 546. Necessary expenses shall be refunded to every possessor; but only the possessor in good faith may retain the thing until he has been reimbursed therefor.

Useful expenses shall be refunded only to the possessor in good faith with the same right of retention, the person who has defeated him in the possession having the option of refunding the amount of the expenses or of paying the increase in value which the thing may have acquired by reason thereof. (453a)

Art. 548. Expenses for pure luxury or mere pleasure shall not be refunded to the possessor in good faith; but he may remove the ornaments with which he has embellished the principal thing if it suffers no injury thereby, and if his successor in the possession does not prefer to refund the amount expended. (454)

A BPS in good faith is someone who possesses the property, believing the property to be his under some mode or title of acquisition.  See Article 712 for the modes of acquiring ownership.

Hence, if a person knows that he is not the owner, he cannot be considered as a BPS in good faith.  This is why a lessee can never be a BPS in good faith.  It bears noting that there are Supreme Court decisions which gave exception to this rule, such as:  a) a mother-in-law tells the spouses to build on her own property; b) an alleged landowner tells the BPS that he owns the land and that the BPS can build on it, when in fact, the land is not his; or, c) tolerance of the landowner to the acts of BPS.

The general remedy for the landowner to avoid the provision of Article 548 is for him to execute an agreement with the BPS not to build on the property.  In this case, the contractual provisions will apply; and the absent of which makes the Civil Code provisions on lease applicable, such as:

Art. 1678. If the lessee makes, in good faith, useful improvements which are suitable to the use for which the lease is intended, without altering the form or substance of the property leased, the lessor upon the termination of the lease shall pay the lessee one-half of the value of the improvements at that time. Should the lessor refuse to reimburse said amount, the lessee may remove the improvements, even though the principal thing may suffer damage thereby. He shall not, however, cause any more impairment upon the property leased than is necessary.

With regard to ornamental expenses, the lessee shall not be entitled to any reimbursement, but he may remove the ornamental objects, provided no damage is caused to the principal thing, and the lessor does not choose to retain them by paying their value at the time the lease is extinguished. (n)

Case B:  If the owner is in bad faith, and the BPS is in good faith:  Apply Article 447.

Art. 454. When the landowner acted in bad faith and the builder, planter or sower proceeded in good faith, the provisions of article 447 shall apply.

Art. 447. The owner of the land who makes thereon, personally or through another, plantings, constructions or works with the materials of another, shall pay their value; and, if he acted in bad faith, he shall also be obliged to the reparation of damages. The owner of the materials shall have the right to remove them only in case he can do so without injury to the work constructed, or without the plantings, constructions or works being destroyed. However, if the landowner acted in bad faith, the owner of the materials may remove them in any event, with a right to be indemnified for damages.

The general rule is that the landowner is liable to pay for the value of improvements or materials used, and that the owner of materials is entitled to reimbursement or the removal of materials if it will not cause any damage to the property.

If the landowner is in bad faith, he shall be held liable for damages, plus the owner of the materials has the right to remove the materials whether or not there will be a damage to the property.

Case C:  The owner is in good faith, and the BPS is in bad faith:  Apply the following articles:

Art. 449. He who builds, plants or sows in bad faith on the land of another, loses what is built, planted or sown without right to indemnity.

Art. 450. The owner of the land on which anything has been built, planted or sown in bad faith may demand the demolition of the work, or that the planting or sowing be removed, in order to replace things in their former condition at the expense of the person who built, planted or sowed; or he may compel the builder or planter to pay the price of the land, and the sower the proper rent.

Art. 451. In the cases of the two preceding articles, the landowner is entitled to damages from the builder, planter or sower.

Art. 452. The builder, planter or sower in bad faith is entitled to reimbursement for the necessary expenses of preservation of the land.

In essence, the landowner is entitled to damages, plus he may:

  • Appropriate what was built without need of indemnity to the BPS;
  • Demand the demolition of the thing built or restoration of the land at the expense of the BPS;
  • Compel the BPS to pay the land or the sower the proper rent.

Notwithstanding the bad faith on the part of BPS, he still:

  • Is entitled to reimbursement for the necessary expenses of preservation of land; and,
  • Has the right to remove to remove the materials as long as there will be no damage to the land.

Case D:  If both owner and the BPS are in bad faith:  Apply Article 453, to wit:

Art. 453. If there was bad faith, not only on the part of the person who built, planted or sowed on the land of another, but also on the part of the owner of such land, the rights of one and the other shall be the same as though both had acted in good faith.
It is understood that there is bad faith on the part of the landowner whenever the act was done with his knowledge and without opposition on his part.

This bears semblance with the in pari delicto rule.

Note:  The author appreciates any feedback or constructive criticisms.  He encourages  the readers to correct any mistake that they find in the article above to ensure the veracity and the accuracy of the information.  As the topic is a very important one in the realm of Property law, it is also important to ensure that the dissemination of such information remains correct and without any flaws.

Labor Laws: Illegal Dismissal, Procedural Due Process, and Twin-Notice Rule

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In the case of Erector Advertising Sign Group, Inc. and Amoroto vs. NLRC (G.R. No. 167218, July 2, 2010), the Supreme Court reiterated the basic requirements for the legality of an employee’s dismissal, to wit:

The validity of an employees dismissal from service hinges on the satisfaction of the two substantive requirements for a lawful termination. These are, first, whether the employee was accorded due process the basic components of which are the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. This is the procedural aspect. And second, whether the dismissal is for any of the causes provided in the Labor Code of the Philippines. This constitutes the substantive aspect.

The first requisite (as to the procedural aspect) is further explained by the Supreme Court as follows:

With respect to due process requirement, the employer is bound to furnish the employee concerned with two (2) written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected. One is the notice apprising the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought and this may loosely be considered as the proper charge. The other is the notice informing the employee of the managements decision to sever his employment. This decision, however, must come only after the employee is given a reasonable period from receipt of the first notice within which to answer the charge, thereby giving him ample opportunity to be heard and defend himself with the assistance of his representative should he so desire. The requirement of notice, it has been stressed, is not a mere technicality but a requirement of due process to which every employee is entitled.

In this case, the Supreme Court held Erector guilty of illegal dismissal. The court held that a letter sent to the employee, telling him that he will be suspended on several grounds, is not enough compliance with the twin-notice rule:

This, inasmuch as the order refers to a four (4) day absence supposedly incurred between May 12, 2000 and May 15, 2000 for which Cloma has actually been sanctioned with suspension. In this regard, it suffices to say that even assuming that the May 15, 2000 order could validly take the place of the first notice, still, Clomas dismissal cannot be validly effected, because an employee may be dismissed only if the grounds mentioned in the pre-dismissal notice were the ones cited for the termination of employment.

A digest of this case will be posted on this blog soon.

 

Labor Laws: What are the limitations to Management Prerogative?

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The concept of management prerogative is not absolute.  What are the limitations on the exercise of management prerogative?

1. It must be exercised in good faith.
2. It must not be tainted with unfair labor practice.
3. The exercise of management prerogative must be within the limitations set by law.
4. It must be within the limitations set by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
5. The exercise must be consistent with the principles of fair play and justice.

RA8042 as amended by RA10022: Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act

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Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act RA8042 as amended by RA 10022

(Click to download full text of the law)

 

I included both the provisions of RA8042 and RA10022 for comparison.  Nonetheless, the old provisions are shown in strikethrough format so as to distinguish it from the new ones.

Remedial Law: Evidence – Classroom Notes and Reviewer

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Scope:

Rules of Court on Evidence – Rules 128-134
A.M. 01-7-01-SC: Rules on Electronic Evidence
Chain of Custody Rule under RA 9165 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2012.
A.M. 06-11-05 SC: Rule on DNA Evidence
A.M. 01-7-01-SC: Rules on Electronic Evidence
A.M. 004-07-SC: Rules on Examination of Child Witness; Also Sexual Abuse Shield Rule
A.M. 12-8-8-SC: Judicial Affidavit Rule
RA 6981 Witness Protection Security & Benefit Act
RA 7438 Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation

Sources:

Ampuan Evidence Reviewer
Atty. Henedino Brondial’s Remedial Law Syllabus for the cases
Atty. Willard Riano’s Evidence for notes and the sequencing of topics

Click to Download the PDF File:

Remedial Law – Evidence Reviewer v1.0

Essay: Feasibility of Public-Private Partnerships

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When I took my Legal Research and Legal Writing subjects, we were asked to write a paper any relevant legal issues.  In the end, I came up with this:

 

FEASIBILITY OF PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

Based from the facts surrounding the establishment of MRT3

jeffsarabusingwordpress_feasibilityofPPP

Scope:

  • Background of Public-Private Partnership
  • RA 7718 (BOT Law) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations

 

Do note that I wrote the paper years ago and my views have changed.  Nonetheless, I posted it here for scholarly purposes, just in case the reader is about do to a research on the same topic in the future.

The sources of the information are properly cited in the paper itself.

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Disclaimer: The author merely published his notes from the classroom discussions and recitations. He does not guarantee the full accuracy of the data. If you see any wrong information, please tell and the author will be more than happy to correct it. After all, “false knowledge is more dangerous that outright ignorance”.