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MOTOROLA PHILIPPINES, INC., et al. v. IMELDA B. AMBROCIO, et al.

582 SCRA 502 (2009), SECOND DIVISION (Carpio Morales, J.) When a company provides a Redundancy Program in favor of the dismissed employees, the latter already received what was due them under the law. Sometime in 1997, Motorola Philippines, Inc. (MPI) decided to close its Paraaque plant in order to consolidate its operations. It thus offered to its affected employees a redundancy/separation package consisting of separation pay equivalent to two months salary per year of service, insurance policies, etc. After availing the separation package, 236 employees filed complaints against MPI for payment of retirement pay equivalent to one-month salary per year of service. MPI, on the other hand, insisted that Ambrocio, et al. had already received such one-month pay, the same having been included in the cash component of the separation/redundancy package paid to them. The Labor Arbiter found MPI liable to Ambrocio et al. for the payment of "retirement pay service benefits" since retirement pay is separate and distinct from separation pay. The NLRC, however, granted MPIs appeal and dismissed the complaint of Ambrocio, et al. holding that the benefits received by Ambrocio, et al. for involuntary separation under MPIs retirement plan included the service pay benefits, which both grant one months pay for every year of service. Ambrocio, et al. appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA) which ruled In favor of Ambrocio et al. Hence, the filing of this appeal. ISSUES: Whether or not Ambrocios, et al. were entitled to additional retirement benefits HELD: Separation pay has been defined as the amount that an employee receives at the time of his severance and is designed to provide the employee with the wherewithal during the period he is looking for another employment, and is recoverable only in the instances enumerated under Articles 283 and 284 of the Labor Code, as amended, or in illegal dismissal cases when reinstatement is no longer possible. Retirement pay, on the other hand, presupposes that the employee entitled to it has reached the compulsory retirement age or has rendered the required number of years as provided for in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the employment contract or company policy, or in the absence thereof, in Republic Act No. 7641 or the Retirement Law. It is admitted that Ambrocio were terminated pursuant to a redundancy, and not due to retirement program, hence, they were entitled to a separation pay of one-month salary per year of service. As correctly ruled by the NLRC, by whatever version of MPIs Retirement Plan would be made applicable, of Ambrocio, et al. are entitled to a separation pay of one-month salary per year of service. Under Sec. III-B of the Plan on which of Ambrocio, et al. rely, "[i]n case of involuntary separation with the company due to retrenchment/redundancy, the employee shall be given a service benefit equivalent to one month per year of service." On the other hand, based on Policy 1215 on which MPI relies, under the same circumstances, the company shall provide its employee a separation pay equivalent to one (1) months pay per year of service, inclusive of any service benefit eligibility under the Retirement Plan. Thus, when of Ambrocio, et al. were paid a separation pay of two months salary for every year of service under the Redundancy Package, they already received what was due them under the law and in accordance with MPIs plan.