Sheena, a single mother, has been working in a popular restaurant in Baguio City for five years already. With the easing of restrictions in movements and with more businesses allowed to operate and accommodate dine-in clients in restaurants, cafes, and food chains to add up to their clients who prefer take-out and delivery services, workers like her is optimistic that there will be better days to come, hoping their employers will increase their working hours from four hours to the regular eight hours a day. Employers have to consider remedial measures instead of removing employees or closing businesses.
Ultimately, the Covid-19 has affected both employers and workers. Some businesses in Baguio and the Cordillera closed and employees lost their jobs. Some employees received their separation pay and other benefits while others had none.
Sheena and other workers like her should know about their rights. The most important is the right to security of tenure, which means that a regular employee like her shall remain employed unless her services are terminated for just or authorized cause and after observance of due process of law.
There are provisions in the Labor Code that protect the right of security of tenure like the differentiation of the kinds of employment; just and authorized causes for termination of employment; observance of administrative due process; right to contest dismissal; right of workers to demand proof of dismissal for just and authorized cause; right to appeal and to reinstatement pending appeal; right to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights, full back wages, and other benefits; right to separation pay; and right to retirement benefits.
But of course, there are also provisions of law that protect the rights of the employer.
Just causes for terminating an employee by the employer are serious misconduct; willful disobedience of employer’s lawful orders connected to work; gross and habitual neglect of duty; fraud or breach of trust; commission of a crime or offense against the employer, employer’s family or representative; and other analogous causes.
Just causes for termination of employment by the employee are serious insult by the employer or his or her representative on the honor and person of the employee; inhuman and unbearable treatment accorded the employee by the employer or his or her representative; and commission of a crime by the employer or his or her representative against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of his or her family.
Authorized causes for termination are the installation of labor-saving devices; redundancy; retrenchment to prevent losses; closure or cessation of business and disease not curable within six months as certified by competent public authority, and continued employment of the employee is prejudicial to his or her health or to the health of his or her co-employees.
Due process in the context of termination of employment means the right of an employee to be notified of the reason for his or her dismissal and, in case of just causes, to be provided the opportunity to defend himself or herself.
In termination for just cause, due process involves the two-notice rule: a notice of intent to dismiss specifying the ground for termination and giving the said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his or her side; and a notice of dismissal indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify termination.
In termination for an authorized cause, due process means a written notice of dismissal to the employee specifying the grounds given at least 30 days before the date of termination. A copy of the notice shall be furnished the Department of Labor and Employment regional office.
In authorized cause terminations, separation pay is the amount given an employee terminated due to retrenchment, closure or cessation of business, or incurable disease. The employee is entitled to receive the equivalent of one month pay or one-half month pay, whichever is higher, for every year of service. In just cause terminations, separation pay is also the amount given to employees who have been dismissed without just cause and could no longer be reinstated.
END/Patrick T Rillorta