G.R. No. 122917 THIRD DIVISION / PANGANIBAN, J.

July 12, 1999
MARITES BERNARDO et al. vs. NLRC Daylo, Jerome Dela Cruz Series: 7
FACTS: The 43 petitioners are deaf-mutes who were hired on various periods from
1988 to 1993 by respondent Far East Bank and Trust Co. as Money Sorters and Coun
ters through a uniformly worded agreement called "Employment Contract for Handic
apped Workers". The said agreement provides for the manner of how they are hired
and be rehired, the amount of their wages (P118.00 per day), period of employme
nt (5 days a week, 8 hours a day, training for 1 month, 6 months period) and the
manner and methods of how their works are to be done (Sort out bills according
to color; Count each denomination per hundred, either manually or with the aid o
f a counting machine; Wrap and label bills per hundred; Put the wrapped bills in
to bundles; and Submit bundled bills to the bank teller for verification.) Many
of their employments were renewed every six months. Claiming that they should be
considered as regular employees they filed a complaint for illegal dismissal an
d recovery of various benefits. Labor arbiter's decision: complaint is dismissed f
or lack of merit (the terms of the contract shall be the law between the parties
.). Affirmed by the NLRC (Art. 280 is not controlling herein but Art. 80) (the M
agna Carta for Disabled Persons was not applicable, "considering the prevailing
circumstances of the case.") and denied motion for reconsideration.
ISSUES: Does petitioners considered as regular employees? LAW: Art.78 & 80 of th
e Labor Code and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. RULING: Yes. The petition
is meritorious. However, only the employees, who worked for more than six month
s and whose contracts were renewed are deemed regular. Hence, their dismissal fr
om employment was illegal. The stipulations in the employment contracts indubita
bly conform with Article 80, however, the application of Article 280 of the Labo
r Code is justified because of the advent of RA No. 7277 (the Magna Carta for Di
sabled Persons) which mandates that a qualified disabled employee should be give
n the same terms and conditions of employment as a qualified able-bodied person
(compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives or allowances)
27 of the petitioners are considered regular employees by provision of law regar
dless of any agreement between the parties as embodied in article 280 in relatio
n to article 281 of the Labor Code. The test is whether the former is usually ne
cessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer. Hence, the
employment is considered regular, but only with respect to such activity, and wh
ile such activity exist. Without a doubt, the task of counting and sorting bills
is necessary and desirable to the business of respondent bank. When the bank re
newed the contract after the lapse of the six-month probationary period, the emp
loyees thereby became regular employees. No employer is allowed to determine ind
efinitely the fitness of its employees. Those who have worked for only 6 months
and employments were not renewed are not considered regular employees.
OPINION: The Court correctly finds that 27 of the handicapped workers are regula
r employees. The test is whether the activity is usually necessary or desirable
in the usual business or trade of the employer. The employment is considered reg
ular, but only with respect to such activity, and while such activity exist. Wit
hout a doubt, the task of counting and sorting bills is necessary and desirable
to the business of respondent bank. As regular employees, the twenty-seven petit
ioners are entitled to security of tenure; that is, their services may be termin
ated only for a just or authorized cause.