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Friday, June 22, 2012
Trial-type hearing not required in administrative/labor case; mere opportunity to be heard sufficient.
In Perez v. Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company, the Court underscored the significance of the two-notice rule in dismissing an employee:
To meet the requirements of due process in the dismissal of an employee, an employer must furnish the worker with two written notices: (1) a written notice specifying the grounds for termination and giving to said employee a reasonable opportunity to explain his side and (2) another written notice indicating that, upon due consideration of all circumstances, grounds have been established to justify the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee.[emphases and italics ours].
Contrary to Esguerra’s allegation, the law does not require that an intention to terminate one’s employment should be included in the first notice. It is enough that employees are properly apprised of the charges brought against them so they can properly prepare their defenses; it is only during the second notice that the intention to terminate one’s employment should be explicitly stated.
There is also no basis to question the absence of a proper hearing. In Perez, the Court provided the following guiding principles in connection with thehearingrequirement in dismissal cases:
a)"ample opportunity to be heard" means any meaningful opportunity (verbal or written) given to the employee to answer the charges against him and submit evidence in support of his defense, whether in ahearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way.
b)a formalhearingor conference becomes mandatory only when requested by the employee in writing or substantial evidentiary disputes exist or a company rule or practice requires it, or when similar circumstances justify it.
c)the "ample opportunity to be heard" standard in theLaborCode prevails over the "hearingor conference" requirement in the implementing rules and regulations.
In sum, the existence of an actual, formal "trial-type"hearing, although preferred, is not absolutely necessary to satisfy the employee's right to be heard. Esguerra was able to present her defenses; and only upon proper consideration of it did Valle Verde send the second memorandum terminating her employment. Since Valle Verde complied with the two-notice requirement, no procedural defect exists in Esguerra’s termination.