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# 28

Will an action for illegal dismissal filed by

handicapped workers after their termination
when their contract with the employer has
already expired prosper?

It has been imbibed in our constitution the duty of the State to protect and ensure
the safety and security of the different, but equally important, aspects/dimensions of its
citizens life. One aspect that would determine the growth or downfall of persons
entirety is employment; in a specific provision, Section 3, Article XVI states it is the
policy of the State to assure the workers of security of tenure and free them from the
bondage of uncertainty of tenure woven by some employers into their contracts of

The guarantee is an act of social justice.

When a person has no

property, his job may possibly be his only possession or means of livelihood and those
of his dependents. When a person loses his job, his dependents suffer as well. The
worker should therefore be protected and insulated against any arbitrary deprivation of
his job[1].
In accordance, the Labor Code of the Philippines is given the characteristic,
through its provisions, of being construed in favor of labor, to protect laborers and
employees against the powerful and influential business owners whose machinations
may easily abuse its employees, through their needs, and assert its moral ascendancy
to tip the scale in their favor. The language of the law manifests the intent to protect the
tenurial interest of the worker who may be denied the rights and benefits due a regular
employee because of lopsided agreements with the economically powerful employer
who can maneuver to keep an employee on a casual or temporary status for as long as
it is convenient to it[2].
In close relation to the assurance given the citizens in terms of their employment,
the State also provides equal treatment and non-discrimination of Persons with disability
and to afford them equal chances and opportunities should they prove that they are
qualified and may perform the same tasks performed by normal people. For the
1[] Philippine Geothermal, Inc. v. NLRC, 189 SCRA 211 (1990)
2[] Romares v. National Labor Relations Commission, 294 SCRA 411 (1998)

protection and furtherance of equality in the Country, Congress had enacted a law
stating: Disabled persons are part of Philippine society, thus the State shall give full
support to the improvement of the total well-being of disabled persons and their
integration into the mainstream of society. Toward this end, the State shall adopt policies
ensuring the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of disabled persons. It
shall develop their skills and potentials to enable them to compete favorably for
available opportunities[1].
However, the law, despite the protection and vigilance accorded to labor and
while protecting the rights of the employees, authorizes neither the oppression nor
destruction of the employer[2]. When the law angles the scale of justice in favor of labor,
the scale should never be so tilted if the result is an injustice to the employer [3]. If
injustice would be done to the employers to benefit the employees, the imbalance would
adversely affect the Country in its entirety through the Economy. Businesses provide a
significant part of the much needed taxes for the continuance and proliferation of
Governmental services and protection. Furthermore, as part of the country, business
owners and employers must also enjoy the protection accorded by the State.

With the case given, an analysis would reveal it impractical and useless to answer the
question directly without first qualifying it. Unfortunately, with the myriad of possibilities
and the differences in their results it is nearly untenable that the question be totally
qualified, in an attempt to properly apply ones abilities in legal research together with
ones reasoning, the case shall be considered as a whole but its part shall be sought to
be qualified when possible to provide a comprehensive and usable academic paper.
1[] Sec. 2(a) of R.A. 7277, Magna Carta for Disabled Persons
2[] Pacific Miles, Inc. v. Alonzo, 199 SCRA 617 [1991]
3[] Philippine Geothermal, Inc. v. NLRC, 236 SCRA 371 [1994]

In the question presented, the immediate and logical 1 st step is to ascertain if

there is a cause of action to file a complaint of illegal dismissal. The handicapped
workers whose contract had ended stand and complain, they assert that such an end in
their contract constitutes illegal dismissal. Illegal dismissal would be committed when an
employer dismisses an employee, whether contractual, regular or seasonal, on grounds
not specified or found under the Labor Code, with some exceptions found in the
provisions of the code and other laws, employers cannot generally dismiss employees if
the causes for such dismissal is not warranted or provided by the law or by the
jurisprudences available.
In the question provided, no other information was meted out to provide crucial
information needed that would adversely yield different answers. It is therefore
imperative for one to qualify the question specifically on the length of time served by
these handicapped workers, as to whether they have served for more than 6 months or
The qualification, the handicapped workers have only been employed once for a
6-month contract. In the qualifying instance that the disabled persons had only been
employed for 6 months, the ending and non-renewal of the contract would not constitute
illegal dismissal but a merely the completion of the contract entered into by the
employees and the employer. The handicapped workers had entered into a contract
with their employer, considering the qualified instance applied in this scenario the
workers have no cause of action against their employer. The law provides for the
requirements for regularization of contractual/casual employees, the set conditions
should be met; an absence of any of these conditions would result to a retained status
of being a contractual or casual employee. Article 280 of the Labor Code of the
Philippines provides:
Regular and casual employment. - The provisions of written agreement to
the contrary notwithstanding and regardless of the oral agreement of the
parties, an employment shall be deemed to be regular where the
employee has been engaged to perform activities which are usually

necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer,

except where the employment has been fixed for a specific project or
undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined
at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or
service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for
the duration of the season.
An employment shall be deemed to be casual if it is not covered by the
preceding paragraph: Provided, That any employee who has rendered at
least one year of service, whether such service is continuous or broken,
shall be considered a regular employee with respect to the activity in
which he is employed and his employment shall continue while such
activity exists.
With the provision of the law provided and the qualification made, it is furthered
qualified that the employees where not regular. Since their employment lasted only for 6
months and that their contracts were no longer renewed after.
One must also remember that handicapped workers may either be generally







workers/employees. But regardless of whether the handicapped workers are qualified or

not, the end-result would still be the same. The expiration of their contract would not
result in an illegal dismissal as asserted by the employees. Although the end-result in
this term paper is the same, it must be noted that there is still a difference between a
qualified handicapped worker as defined under the Magna Carta for Disabled persons
and a non-qualified handicapped worker or a special worker/employee. This is in so
much as to provide which Article would govern a contract between an employer and a
handicapped employee. For academic purposes these shall be shortly explained as
Handicapped employees are those who have qualified and are
seen to be able to perform a task similar to that of a normal person. Their
disability did not render them unqualified or unfit for the tasks assigned to
them.[1]. In this instance and with the dawn of the Magna Carta for
Disabled person, the Article that now governs a contract between an
employee and the disabled person, if he is qualified, shall be Article 280.
The fact that the employees were qualified disabled persons necessarily
removes the employment contracts from the ambit of Article 80. Since the
1[] Bernardo vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 122917, July 12 1999

Magna Carta accords them the rights of qualified able-bodied persons,

they are thus covered by Article 280 of the Labor Code. [1]
Again, regardless of whether the handicapped workers are qualified or not, there
would be no difference when considering the end-result of this paper due to the
qualified instances taken into consideration.
Consequently, the contract entered into by both parties is allowed considering
that the stipulations in employment contracts providing for term employment or fixed
period employment are valid when the period were agreed upon knowingly and
voluntarily by the parties without force, duress or improper pressure, being brought to
bear upon the employee and absent any other circumstances vitiating his consent, or
where it satisfactorily appears that the employer and employee dealt with each other on
more or less equal terms with no moral dominance whatever being exercised by the
former over the latter[2]. Even if the workers/employees were performing tasks
necessary and desirable in the usual business of the employer, they were employed on
a mere temporary basis, since their employment was limited to a fixed period. As such,
they cannot be said to be regular employees, but are merely contractual employees.
Consequently, there is no illegal dismissal when the workers services were terminated
by reason of the expiration of their contracts [3]. To further support this contention, the
Supreme Court said we held that Article 280 of the Labor Code does not proscribe or
prohibit an employment contract with a fixed period. We furthered that it does not
necessarily follow that where the duties of the employee consist of activities usually
necessary or desirable in the usual business of the employer, the parties are forbidden
from agreeing on a period of time for the performance of such activities. There is thus
nothing essentially contradictory between a definite period of employment and the

1[] Bernardo vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 122917, July 12 1999

2[] Brent School, Inc. vs. Zamora, G.R. No. L-48494 February 5, 1990
3[] phrase edited but based on Blancaflor vs. NLRC, 218 SCRA 366 (1993)

nature of the employees duties.[4]. Contractual employees may not use the termination
of their contract as a ground for illegal dismissal. [2]
The Supreme Court had decided multiple cases which have similarities with the
question posed, with the 1 st qualified instance in mind. One of the decisions of the Court
for one of the case included this phrase: Although the petitioners who mainly worked as
chicken dressers performed work necessary and desirable in the usual business of the
respondent, they were not regular employees therein. Consequently, the termination of
their employment upon the expiry of their respective contracts was valid. [3].
In another case, the Court said, only the employees, who worked for more than
six months and whose contracts were renewed are deemed regular.[ 4] this case
involved handicapped workers who were employed under a 6-month contract. Majority
of these handicapped employees had their contracts renewed while a few only served
for 6 months. In this instance the Court took cognizance of the law prescribing the
mandatory length of at least 1 year to consider a contractual employee as a regular
Lastly, from the expert opinion of Professor Joselito Guianan Chan[5] in answering
a question similar to the one posed in this term paper, the complaint will not prosper
because what they entered into was a valid fixed-term employment contract for six (6)

1[] St. Theresas School of Novaliches Foundation vs. NLRC

2[] Blancaflor vs. NLRC, 218 SCRA 366 (1993)
3[] Pangilinan vs. General Milling Corporation, G.R. No. 149329, July 14, 2004
4[] Bernardo vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 122917, July 12 1999
5[] Magna Cum Laude, Class Valedictorian and Most Outstanding Student Awardee, Institute of
Law, Far Eastern University, Manila, 1987, Author of several Books on Labor law and social
legislation including a law reviewer in Labor laws

months. Upon the expiration of the contract, there is no more employment relationship
to speak of.[1]

With the thought in mind that the handicapped workers had served only for 6 months,
the jurisprudences, laws and expert opinions gathered through legal research yield that
these handicapped workers complaint for illegal dismissal due to the termination of their
contracts shall not prosper due to the following grounds:
1. The contract between the employee and employer fixing the term of employment
is allowed and sanction by the law if it complies the condition for fixed terms set
in the case of Brent vs. Zamora.
2. The termination of the contract only meant the completion of the agreement
between parties and not a preluded attempt to curtail their tenure. [2]
3. The workers were not regular employees and therefore cannot raise the ground
of illegal dismissal due to the termination of their contract. Only those that have
been regularized by their employers or the law may assert that the termination of
their contract is a ground for of illegal dismissal. [3]

1[] Suggested answers in the 2006 Bar Examinations in Labor Law by Prof. Joselito Guinanan
2[] Blancaflor vs. NLRC, 218 SCRA 366 (1993)
3[] based from the decision rendered on Philips Semiconductors, Inc. vs. Eloisa Fadriquela, G.R.
No. 141717, April 14, 2004