Article 113 of the Labor Code is clear that there are only three exceptions to the general rule that no deductions from the employees'
salaries can be made. The exception which finds application in the instant petition is in cases where the employer is authorized by law or regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor to effect the deductions. On the other hand, Article 114 states that generally, deposits for loss or damages are not allowed except in cases where the employer is engaged in such trades, occupations or business where the practice of making deposits is a recognized one, or is necessary or desirable as determined by the Secretary of Labor in appropriate rules or regulations.
While employers should generally be given leeways in their exercise of management prerogatives, we agree with the respondents and the CA that in the case at bar, the petitioners had failed to prove that their imposition of the new policy upon the goldsmiths under Niña Jewelry's employ falls under the exceptions specified in Articles 113 and 114 of the Labor Code.
The petitioners point out that Section 14, Book III, Rule VIII of the Omnibus Rules does not define the circumstances when the making of deposits is deemed recognized, necessary or desirable. The petitioners then argue that the intention of the law is for the courts to determine on a case to case basis what should be regarded as recognized, necessary or desirable and to test an employer's policy of requiring deposits on the bases of its reasonableness and necessity.
We are not persuaded.
Articles 113 and 114 of the Labor Code are clear as to what are the exceptions to the general prohibition against requiring deposits and effecting deductions from the employees' salaries. Hence, a statutory construction of the aforecited provisions is not called for. Even if we were however called upon to interpret the provisions, our inclination would still be to strictly construe the same against the employer because evidently, the posting of
cash bonds and the making of deductions from the wages would inarguably impose an additional burden upon the employees.
While the petitioners are not absolutely precluded from imposing the new policy, they can only do so upon compliance with the requirements of the law. In other words, the petitioners should first establish that the making of deductions from the salaries is authorized by law, or regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor. Further, the posting of cash bonds should be proven as a recognized practice in the jewelry manufacturing business, or alternatively, the petitioners should seek for the determination by the Secretary of Labor through the issuance of appropriate rules and regulations that the policy the former seeks to implement is necessary or desirable in the conduct of business. The petitioners failed in this respect. It bears stressing that without proofs that requiring deposits and effecting deductions are recognized practices, or without securing the Secretary of Labor's determination of the necessity or desirability of the same, the imposition of new policies relative to deductions and deposits can be made subject to abuse by the employers. This is not what the law intends.
In view of the foregoing, we hold that no dismissal, constructive or otherwise, occurred. The findings of the NLRC and the LA that it was the respondents who stopped reporting for work are supported by substantial evidence. Hence, the CA erred when it re-evaluated the parties' respective evidence and granted the petition filed before it. However, we agree with the CA that it is baseless for Niña Jewelry to impose its new policy upon the goldsmiths under its employ without first complying with the strict requirements of the law.
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