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J o h n S te p h e n T.

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ABSCBN repeatedly hired Nelson Begino and Gener Del Valles as Cameramen/Editors
for TV Broadcasting sometime staring in 1996, Ma. Cristina Sumayao and Monina AvilaLlorin (Petitioners) as reporters in 1996 and 2002, respectively under several Talent
Contracts executed over different periods of time. The terms of these contracts ranged
from three (3) months to one (1) year and contained the following provisions:
1. No existence of employer-employee relationship between ABS-CBN and the



The Talents creation and performance of work should be in accordance with the
ABS-CBNs professional standards and compliance with its policies and
guidelines covering intellectual property creators, industry codes as well as the
rules and regulations of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) and
other regulatory agencies;
The Talents should not engage in similar work for a person or entity directly or
indirectly in competition with or adverse to the interests of ABS-CBN and nonpromotion of any product or service without prior written consent;
The results-oriented nature of the talents work which did not require them to
observe normal or fixed working hours
Remunerations were denominated as Talent Fees which were subject to
contractors tax.

Moreover, ABSCBN provided all the equipment they needed. At the end of each day,
Petitioners were informed about the news to be covered the following day, the routes
they were to take and, whenever the subject of their news coverage is quite distant, even
the start of their workday. Due to the importance of the news items they covered and the
necessity of their completion for the success of the program. Under pain of immediate
termination, petitioners were bound by the companys policy on, among others,
attendance and punctuality.

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Aside from the constant evaluation of their actions, petitioners were reportedly subjected
to an annual competency assessment alongside other ABS-CBN employees, as condition
for their continued employment.
Claiming that they were regular employees of ABS-CBN, petitioners filed against
ABSCBN the complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission.
In refutation of the foregoing assertions, on the other hand, ABS-CBN argued that,
although it occasionally engages in production and generates programs thru various
means, ABS-CBN is primarily engaged in the business of broadcasting television and
radio content. Not having the full manpower complement to produce its own program,
the company had allegedly resorted to engaging independent contractors like actors,
directors, artists, anchormen, reporters, scriptwriters and various production and
technical staff, who offered their services in relation to a particular program.
ABSCBN insisted that, although petitioners were inevitably subjected to some degree of
control, the same was allegedly limited to the imposition of general guidelines on conduct
and performance, simply for the purpose of upholding the standards of the company and
the strictures of the industry. Never subjected to any control or restrictions over the
means and methods by which they performed or discharged the tasks for which their
services were engaged, petitioners were, at most, briefed whenever necessary regarding
the general requirements of the project to be executed.
Having been terminated during the pendency of the case, petitioners filed on a second
complaint against respondents, for regularization, payment of labor standard benefits,
illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice.
Are the talents who were repeated hired under talent contracts of fixed duration regular
employees? Or are they independent contractors?
1. Article 280, Labor Code
2. Sonza v. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, G.R. No. 138051, 10 June 2004, 431
SCRA 583, 604: Recognizing that independent contractors can validly provide his
exclusive services to the hiring party, said case enunciated that guidelines for the
achievement of mutually desired results are not tantamount to control.

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3. Dumpit-Murillo v. Court of Appeals, 551 Phil. 725, 735 (2007) and ABS-CBN
Broadcasting Corporation v. Nazareno, 534 Phil. 306 (2006): The presumption is that
when the work done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and
when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent
business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such
employee and not an independent contractor. The Court will peruse beyond any
such agreement to examine the facts that typify the parties actual relationship.
1. Labor Arbiter (LA): Found existence of employer-employee relationship since
petitioners rendered services necessary and related to ABS-CBNs business for
more than a year, buttressed by the exclusivity clause and prohibitions under
petitioners Talent Contracts and/or Project Assignment Forms which evinced
ABSCBNs control over them.
2. National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC):
a. Affirming decision of the LA.
b. Motion for Reconsideration by ABSCBN was dismissed.
3. Court of Appeals (CA): Reversed the decision of the NLRC. CA discounted the
existence of an employer-employee relation between the parties upon the
following findings and conclusions: (a) petitioners, were engaged by respondent s
as talents for periods, work and the program specified in the Talent Contracts
and/or Project Assignment Forms concluded between them; (b) instead of fixed
salaries, petitioners were paid talent fees depending on the budget allocated for
the program to which they were assigned; (c) being mainly concerned with the
result, respondents did not exercise control over the manner and method by which
petitioner accomplished their work and, at most, ensured that they complied with
the standards of the company, the KBP and the industry; and, (d) the existence of
an employer-employee relationship is not necessarily established by the
exclusivity clause and prohibitions which are but terms and conditions on which
the parties are allowed to freely stipulate. Petitioners motion for reconsidera tion
of the foregoing decision was denied.
4. Supreme Court: Reversed CAs Decision and held that there was employer
employee relationship.

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The Court finds that, notwithstanding the nomenclature of their Talent Contracts and/or
Project Assignment Forms and the terms and condition embodied therein, petitioners are
regular employees of ABS-CBN.
Petitioners perform functions necessary and essential to the business of ABS-CBN which
repeatedly employed them for a long-running news program of its Regional Network
Group in Naga City. In the course of said employment, petitioners were provided the
equipment they needed, were required to comply with the Company's policies which
entailed prior approval and evaluation of their performance.
The petitioners nature of work is usually desirable and necessary in the business of the
employer and continuous re-hiring after the end of contract for a long period of time
positively indicates that such talents are regular employees
Time and again, it has been ruled that the test to determine whether employment is
regular or not is the reasonable connection between the activity performed by the
employee in relation to the business or trade of the employer. As cameramen/editors and
reporters, petitioners were undoubtedly performing functions necessary and essential to
ABS-CBNs business of broadcasting television and radio content. It matters little that
petitioners services were engaged for specified periods for TV Patrol Bicol and that they
were paid according to the budget allocated therefor. Aside from the fact that said
program is a regular weekday fare of the ABS-CBNs Regional Network Group in Naga
City, the record shows that, from their initial engagement in the aforesaid capacities,
petitioners were continuously re-hired by respondents over the years. To the mind of the
Court, respondents repeated hiring of petitioners for its long-running news program
positively indicates that the latter were ABS-CBNs regular employees.
If the employee has been performing the job for at least one year, even if the performance
is not continuous or merely intermittent, the law deems the repeated or continuing
performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity, if not indispensability of that activity
in the business. Indeed, an employment stops being co-terminous with specific projects

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where the employee is continuously re-hired due to the demands of the employers
business. xxx xxx xxx
In the same manner that the practice of having fixed-term contracts in the industry does
not automatically make all talent contracts valid and compliant with labor law, it has,
consequently, been ruled that the assertion that a talent contract exists does not
necessarily prevent a regular employment status.
Control by ABSCBN over petitioners shows existence of employer employee relationship
As cameramen/editors and reporters, it also appears that petitioners were subject to the
control and supervision of respondents which, first and foremost, provided them with
the equipments essential for the discharge of their functions. Prepared at the instance of
respondents, petitioners Talent Contracts tellingly provided that ABS-CBN retained all
creative, administrative, financial and legal control of the program to which they were
assigned. Aside from having the right to require petitioners to attend and participate in
all promotional or merchandising campaigns, activities or events for the Program, ABSCBN required the former to perform their functions at such locations and
Performance/Exhibition Schedules it provided or, subject to prior notice, as it chose
determine, modify or change. Even if they were unable to comply with said schedule,
petitioners were required to give advance notice, subject to respondents approval.
However obliquely worded, the Court finds the foregoing terms and conditions
demonstrative of the control respondents exercised not only over the results of
petitioners work but also the means employed to achieve the same.
As an advocate of the labor sector and the welfare of the workers, the pragmatic view of
Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez echoes my personal values in such a way that if I
were in his position I would hold the same ruling as in the case in point.
Prescinding from the prcis of the case and looking into the philosophy behind this
decision, it appear to me that Justice Perez resorted to the doctrine of primary of fact
which lies in the principle the determination of the existence of such a relationship should be
guided primarily by the facts relating to the performance of work and the remuneration of the

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worker, notwithstanding how the relationship is characterized in any contrary arrangement,

contractual or otherwise, that may have been agreed between the parties. 1
In the words of Justice Perez, citing the case of Abante, Jr. v. Lamadrid Bearing & Parts
Corp.2 the recognized supremacy of the law over the nomenclature of the contract and the
stipulations contained therein is aimed at bringing life to the policy enshrined in the Constitution
to afford protection to labor.
Thus, this case also solidified the way labor cases should be hitherto be resolved: that all
contract, especially contracts that denies the existence of employer-employ ee
relationship, must be viewed under the microscope of the primacy of fact and supremacy
of the law.
Also, in this case, I also subtly applied the two-tiered test which integrated the control
test and the economic dependence test. Control means that the putative employers
power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the wor k
is to be accomplished. Economic dependence considers on the other hand the underlying
economic realities of the activity or relationship. This two-tiered test provides a
framework of analysis, which would take into consideration the totality of circumstances
surrounding the true nature of the relationship between the parties, as in the case at bar.
Synthesizing the disquisition of the court in this case, the Supreme Court gave the bar
and the bench, as well as the NLRC and its Labor Arbiter a clear jurisprudent ial
guidelines in the disposition of cases involving talents. To my mind, the rules as laid
down by this case vis--vis the Sonza and Murillo case can be summed up in the table
Basis for

Talents as independent
Celebrity status
Peculiar/unique skill, talent

Talents who are regular

No celebrity status
No peculiar or unique skill,
talent; merely hired through


2 G.R. No. 159890, 28 May 2004, 430 SCRA 368, 379.

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Power to bargain
talent fees
Economic dependence
Extent of control and

Substantial Capital

Has the power to bargain for

huge talent fees
Is not highly dependent on
the principal for continued
General guidelines for the
achievement of mutually
desired result
Has substantial capital

No power to bargain huge

talent fees
Highly dependent on the
principal for continued work
Control extends not only over
the results of talents work but
also to the means employed to
achieve the same.
Not substantial capital

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Fonterra Brands Phils. Inc. engaged the services of Zytron Marketing and Promotions
Corp. for the marketing and promotion of its milk and dairy products. Part and parcel of
the agreement, Zytron provided Fonterra with trade merchandising representat ives
(TMRs), including Leonardo Largado and Teotimo Estrellado. Lagrado and Estrellado
commenced rendering said services on September 15, 2003 and May 27, 2002,
respectively, and ended on June 6, 2006.
Fonterra sent Zytron a letter terminating its promotions contract, effective June 5,
2006. Fonterra then entered into an agreement for manpower supply with A.C. Sicat
Marketing and Promotional Services (A.C. Sicat). The respondents submitted their job
applications with A.C. Sicat, which hired them for a term of five (5) months. Prior to the
expiration of the 5-month contracts with A.C. Sicat, respondents allegedly sought
renewal thereof, but were allegedly refused. This prompted respondents to file
complaints for illegal dismissal, regularization, non-payment of service incentive leave
and 13th month pay, and actual and moral damages, against petitioner, Zytron, and A.C.
Are Zytron and A.C. Sicat regular employees?
1. ART. 106 of the Labor Code. Contractor or subcontractor.
2. Art. 280 of the Labor Code. Regular and casual employment.
Labor Arbiter: Dismissed the complaint and ruled that respondents were not illegally
dismissed. As a matter of fact, they were the ones who refused to renew their contract.
National Labor Relations Commission: Affirmed the Labor Arbiter findings that
respondents separation from Zytron was brought about by the execution of the contract

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between Fonterra and A.C. Sicat where the parties agreed to absorb Zytrons personnel,
including respondents.
Court of Appeals: Held that A.C. Sicat satisfies the requirements of legitimate job
contracting, but Zytron does not. Therefore, respondents were Fonterras employees.
Additionally, it ruled that respondents were illegally dismissed since Fonterra itself failed
to prove that their dismissal is lawful.
Supreme Court: The Supreme Court granted the petition and reversed and set aside the
ruling of the Court of Appeals. The decision of the National Labor Relations is reinstated.
Respondents were fixed-term employees, and not regular employees. As previously held
by this Court, fixed-term employment contracts are not limited, as they are under the
present Labor Code, to those by nature seasonal or for specific projects with predetermined
dates of completion; they also include those to which the parties by free choice have
assigned a specific date of termination. The determining factor of such contracts is not
the duty of the employee but the day certain agreed upon by the parties for the commencement
and termination of the employment relationship.
In the case at bar, it is clear that respondents were employed by A.C. Sicat as project
employees. In their employment contract with the latter, it is clearly stated that A.C. Sicat
is temporarily employing respondents as TMR[s] effective June 6[, 2006] under the
following terms and conditions: The need for your service being only for a specific
project, your temporary employment will be for the duration only of said project of our
client, namely to promote FONTERRA BRANDS products xxx which is expected to be
finished on or before Nov. 06, 2006.
An assessment of the factual milieu of the case at bar reveals that the Supreme Courts
ruling is consistent with the basic postulates governing the fixed term employment. It is
humbly submitted that for a fixed term contract to be valid, it should be shown that the
fixed period was knowingly and voluntarily agreed upon by the parties. There should
have been no force, duress or improper pressure brought to bear upon the employee;
neither should there be any other circumstance that vitiates the employees consent. It
should satisfactorily appear that the employer and the employee dealt with each other on

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more or less equal terms with no moral dominance being exercised by the employer over
the employee.3
The following precepts were evident in the case at bar. The respondents herein had and
actually exercise their freedom and autonomy in negotiating the terms of the contract. In
fact they exercised their option when they refused to renew their contract under the
second employer.
By refusing to renew their contracts with Zytron, respondents effectively resigned from
the latter. Resignation is the voluntary act of employees who are compelled by personal
reasons to dissociate themselves from their employment, done with the intention of
relinquishing an office, accompanied by the act of abandonment.
Moreover, the best predictor of behavior is intention. Intention is the cognitive
representation of a person's readiness to perform a given behavior, and it is consider ed
to be the immediate antecedent of behavior.

Dumpit-Murillo vs. Court of Appeals, 524 SCRA 290(2007)

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Romeo Basan, Danilo Dizon, Jaime L. Tumabiao, Jr., Roberto Dela Rama, Jr., Ricky S.
Nicolas, Crispulo D. Donor, Galo Falguera (Petitioners) filed a complaint for illegal
dismissal with money claims against Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, bewailing that
respondent dismissed them without just cause and prior written notice required by law.
In essence, Petitioners maintain that they were continuously hired by respondent
company to perform duties necessary and desirable in the usual trade or business and
are, therefore, regular employees. They allege that if their services had really been
engaged for fixed specific periods, respondent should have at least provided the contracts
of employment evidencing the same.
Respondent corporation, however, countered that it hired petitioners as temporary route
helpers to act as substitutes for its absent regular route helpers merely for a fixed period
in anticipation of the high volume of work in its plants or sales offices. As such,
petitioners claims have no basis for they knew that their assignment as route helpers was
temporary in duration.
Are the Petitioners regular employee?
1. Article 280, Labor Code of the Philippines.
2. Magsalin v. National Organization of Working Men, G. R. No. 148492, May 9, 2003:
Nature of work of route helpers hired by Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. is
necessary and desirable in its usual business or trade thereby qualifying them as
regular employees.

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Labor Arbiter: Ruled that petitioners are regular employees after finding that they
performed activities necessary and desirable to the usual business of petitioner for more
than the period for regularization.
National Labor Relations Commission: Affirmed the Labor Arbiters decision and
rejected respondents contention that petitioners were merely employed for a specific
project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined at
the time of their engagement. It stressed that nowhere in the records of the case was it
shown that petitioners were hired as project or seasonal employees, respondent having
failed to submit any contract of project or other similar proof. It also noted that neither
can petitioners be considered as probationary employees for the fact that they had
performed their services for more than six (6) months.
Court of Appeals: Reversed the rulings of the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter and held that
the respondents performed duties which are necessary or desirable in the usual trade or
business of Coca-Cola, is of no moment because this is not the only standard for
determining the status of ones employment. Such fact does not prevent them from being
considered as fixed term employees of Coca-Cola whose engagement was fixed for a
specific period. The respondents repeated hiring for various periods (ranging from more
than six months for private respondent Basan to eight years in the case of private
respondent Dizon) would not automatically categorize them as REGULAR EMPLOYEES.
Petitioners are regular employees. As route helpers who are engaged in the service of
loading and unloading softdrink products of respondent company to its various delivery
points, which is necessary or desirable in its usual business or trade, petitioners are
considered as regular employees. That they merely rendered services for periods of less
than a year is of no moment since for as long as they were performing activities necessary
to the business of respondent, they are deemed as regular employees under the Labor
Code, irrespective of the length of their service.
The notion of the respondent that petitioners are fixed term employees is misplaced.
While it was not expressly mentioned in the Labor Code, the Supreme Court has
recognized a fixed-term type of employment embodied in a contract specifying that the

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services of the employee shall be engaged only for a definite period, the termination of
which occurs upon the expiration of said period irrespective of the existence of just cause
and regardless of the activity the employee is called upon to perform. Considering,
however, the possibility of abuse by employers in the utilization of fixed-term
employment contracts, the Supreme Court, in the case of Brent School vs. Zamora, laid
down the following criteria to prevent the circumvention of the employees security of
1) The fixed period of employment was knowingly and voluntarily agreed
upon by the parties without any force, duress, or improper pressure being
brought to bear upon the employee and absent any other circumstances
vitiating his consent; or
2) It satisfactorily appears that the employer and the employee dealt with
each other on more or less equal terms with no moral dominance exercised
by the former or the latter.
Unfortunately, however, the records of this case is bereft of any proof which will show
that petitioners freely entered into agreements with respondent to perform services for a
specified length of time. There is nothing in the records to show that there was any
agreement at all, the contracts of employment not having been presented.
By contrast with Funtera Branch Phil, Inc. v. Lagrado, G.R. No. 205300, March 18, 2015, the
case at bar has clearly shown the employers pernicious attempt to subvert and
circumvent Labor Laws in order to defeat the right of the petitioners to security of tenure.
It may be gleaned from the analysis adopted by the Supreme Court that the ultimate
intent of the parties was not that of a fixed term employment. Curtly, the respondent
employer skirted its actual relationship with the petitioners in the guise of fixed-term
employment. In evaluating whether a contract should be deemed a fixed term contract
or regular employment the application of the doctrine primacy of fact is in order; in
that, the overt acts and the ultimate intention of the contracting parties should be fully

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While fixed term employment is not per se illegal or against public policy, the criteria
above must first be established. Yet, the records of this case reveal that for years,
petitioners were repeatedly engaged to perform functions necessary to respondent s
business for fixed periods short of the six-month probationary period of employment.
If there was really no intent to circumvent security of tenure, respondent should have
made it clear to petitioners that they were being hired only for fixed periods in an
agreement freely entered into by the parties.
Respondents act of hiring and re-hiring petitioners for periods short of the legal
probationary period evidences its intent to thwart petitioners security of tenure,
especially in view of an awareness that ordinary workers, such as petitioners herein, are
never on equal terms with their employers. It is rather unjustifiable to allow respondent
to hire and rehire petitioners on fixed terms, never attaining regular status.

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Arlene S. Espiritu (Arlene) was engaged by Fuji Television Network, Inc. (Fuji) as a news
correspondent/producer tasked to report Philippine news to Fuji through its Manila
Bureau field office. The employment contract was initially for one year, but was
successively renewed on a yearly basis with salary adjustments upon every renewal.
In January 2009, Arlene was diagnosed with lung cancer. She informed Fuji about her
condition, and the Chief of News Agency of Fuji, Yoshiki Aoki, informed the former that
the company had a problem with renewing her contract considering her condition.
Arlene insisted she was still fit to work as certified by her attending physician.
After a series of verbal and written communications, Arlene and Fuji signed a nonrenewal contract. In consideration thereof, Arlene acknowledged the receipt of the total
amount of her salary from March-May 2009, year-end bonus, mid-year bonus and
separation pay. However, Arlene executed the non-renewal contract under protest.
Arlene filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the NCR Arbitration Branch of the
NLRC, alleging that she was forced to sign the non-renewal contract after Fuji came to
know of her illness. She also alleged that Fuji withheld her salaries and other benefits
when she refused to sign, and that she was left with no other recourse but to sign the nonrenewal contract to get her salaries.

Was Arlene an independent contractor? In the alternative, was Arlene a regular

Art. 280. Regular and casual employment.

Art. 279. Security of tenure.
Art. 284. Disease as ground for termination.
Book VI, Rule 1, Section 8 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code.

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Labor Arbiter: Dismissed the complaint and held that Arlene was not a regular employee
but an independent contractor.
National Labor Relations Commission: Reversed the Labor Arbiters decision and ruled
that Arlene was a regular employee since she continuously rendered services that were
necessary and desirable to Fujis business.
Court of Appeals: Affirmed that NLRC ruling with modification that Fuji immediately
reinstate Arlene to her position without loss of seniority rights and that she be paid her
backwages and other emoluments withheld from her. The Court of Appeals agreed with
the NLRC that Arlene was a regular employee, engaged to perform work that was
necessary or desirable in the business of Fuji, and the successive renewals of her fixedterm contract resulted in regular employment. The case of Sonza does not apply in the
case because Arlene was not contracted on account of a special talent or skill. Arlene was
illegally dismissed because Fuji failed to comply with the requirements of substantive
and procedural due process. Arlene, in fact, signed the non-renewal contract under
protest as she was left without a choice.
Supreme Court: Found Arlene to be a regular employee and not an independent
Arlene was not an independent contractor. Employees under fixed-term contracts
cannot be independent contractors because in fixed-term contracts, an employeremployee relationship exists. The test in this kind of contract is not the necessity and
desirability of the employees activities, but the day certain agreed upon by the parties
for the commencement and termination of the employment relationship. For regular
employees, the necessity and desirability of their work in the usual course of the
employers business are the determining factors. On the other hand, independent
contractors do not have employer-employee relationships with their principals.
In application, Arlene was hired by Fuji as a news producer, but there was no evidence
that she was hired for her unique skills that would distinguish her from ordinary

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employees. Her monthly salary appeared to be a substantial sum. Fuji had the power to
dismiss Arlene, as provided for in her employment contract. The contract also indicated
that Fuji had control over her work as she was required to report for 8 hours from
Monday to Friday. Fuji gave her instructions on what to report and even her mode of
transportation in carrying out her functions was controlled.

Arlene was a regular employee with a fixed-term contract. In determining whether an

employment should be considered regular or non-regular, the applicable test is the
reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee in
relation to the usual business or trade of the employer. The standard, supplied by the law
itself, is whether the work undertaken is necessary or desirable in the usual business or
trade of the employer, a fact that can be assessed by looking into the nature of the services
rendered and its relation to the general scheme under which the business or trade is
pursued in the usual course. It is distinguished from a specific undertaking that is
divorced from the normal activities required in carrying on the particular business or
However, there may be a situation where an employees work is necessary but is not
always desirable in the usual course of business of the employer. In this situation, there
is no regular employment.
A news producer plans and supervises newscast [and] works with reporters in the field
planning and gathering information, including monitoring and getting news stories,
reporting interviewing subjects in front of a video camera, submission of news and
current events reports pertaining to the Philippines, and traveling to the regional office
in Thailand. She also had to report for work in Fujis office in Manila from Mondays to
Fridays, eight per day. She had no equipment and had to use the facilities of Fuji to
accomplish her tasks.
The successive renewals of her contract indicated the necessity and desirability of her
work in the usual course of Fujis business. Because of this, Arlene had become a regular
employee with the right to security of tenure.

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Arlenes contract indicating a fixed term did not automatically mean that she could never
be a regular employee. For as long as it was the employee who requested, or bargained,
that the contract have a definite date of termination, or that the fixed-term contract be
freely entered into by the employer and the employee, then the validity of the fixed-term
contract will be upheld.
This piece of jurisprudence adds a novelty to the usual decided cases on fixed-term
employment, to quote the Supreme Court







automatically mean that she could never be a regular

employee. For as long as it was the employee who requested,
or bargained, that the contract have a definite date of
termination, or that the fixed-term contract be freely
entered into by the employer and the employee, then the
validity of the fixed-term contract will be upheld. (Emphasis
That it contemplates a scenario where it was the employee who is asking for a fixed term
employment contract, is somewhat peculiar when pegged against the reality that most
employees desire employment for an indefinite period of time, when most people seek
for stable long-term jobs that will feed, nourish and for their lifetime.
This decision confirms the existence of regular fixed-term employment, which the
Supreme Court, in the case at bar implicitly defined to be that kind of employment
contract wherein the activities of the employee is usual and desirable in the main line of
business or trade of the employer, which however, stipulates that the employment or
engagement of the employee is for a fixed period of time. In order to be valid, though, it
must be shown that the fixed term employment was requested or bargained by the
employee or has fully and freely assented to such limited and specific period of

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Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is a foreign corporation established and existing under
the laws of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It has a Philippine in Makati City.
Respondents were recruited and hired by Saudia as Temporary Flight Attendants. After
undergoing seminars required by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administra tion
for deployment overseas, as well as training modules offered by Saudia and after
working as Temporary Flight Attendants, respondents became Permanent Flight
Under the Unified Employment Contract for Female Cabin Attendants (Unified
Contract) entered into by the respondents and Saudia the employment of a Flight
Attendant who becomes pregnant shall be rendered void.
In the course of their employment, respondents became pregnant. They informed Saudia
of their respective pregnancies and had gone through the necessary procedures to process
their maternity leaves. Initially, Saudia had given its approval but later on informed
respondents that its management in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia disapproved their maternity
leaves. In addition, it required respondents to file their resignation letters. Responden ts
were told that if they did not resign, Saudia would terminate them all the same. The threat
of termination entailed the loss of benefits, such as separation pay and ticket discount
Whether a contract which provides a stipulation against the pregnancy of a female
employee is valid?
1. Article II, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution
2. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women

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Labor Arbiter: Dismissing

respondents Complaint on the ground of forum non

National Labor Relations Commission: Reversed the ruling of Labor Arbiter. It

explicated that considering that complainants-appellants are OFWs, the Labor Arbiters
and the NLRC has jurisdiction to hear and decide their complaint for illegal termination.
On the issue of whether respondents were validly dismissed, it held that there was
nothing on record to support Saudias claim that respondents resigned voluntarily. Thus
it held that respondents were illegally dismissed.
Court of Appeals: Denied Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 and modified the Decision
of the National Labor Relations Commission with respect to the award of separation pay
and backwages.
Supreme Court: Modified Decision of the Court of Appeals, and REMANDED to the
Labor Arbiter to make a detailed computation of the amounts due to respondents which
petitioner Saudi Arabian Airlines should pay without delay. Ordered to petitioners pay
respondents Backwages, Separation Pay, Moral and Exemplary Damages and Attorneys
The Uniform Contract is not valid as it discriminates against women, thus running afoul
against the Constitutional edict of protection of women and the CEDAW. In this wise,
the Supreme Court explained that
So informed and animated, we emphasize the glaringly discriminatory nature of Saudias policy.
As argued by respondents, Saudias policy entails the termination of employment of flight
attendants who become pregnant. At the risk of stating the obvious, pregnancy is an occurrence
that pertains specifically to women. Saudias policy excludes from and restricts employment on
the basis of no other consideration but sex.
We do not lose sight of the reality that pregnancy does present physical limitations that may render
difficult the performance of functions associated with being a flight attendant. Nevertheless, it
would be the height of iniquity to view pregnancy as a disability so permanent and immutable that
it must entail the termination of ones employment. It is clear to us that any individual, regardless
of gender, may be subject to exigencies that limit the performance of functions. However, we fail

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to appreciate how pregnancy could be such an impairing occurrence that it leaves no other recourse
but the complete termination of the means through which a woman earns a living.
Apart from the constitutional policy on the fundamental equality before the law of men and
women, it is settled that contracts relating to labor and employment are impressed with public
interest. Article 1700 of the Civil Code provides that [t]he relation between capital and labor are
not merely contractual. They are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts must yield
to the common good.
This is a very well-crafted opinion which was given flesh by Justice Leonen by which was
animated the doctrine of parens patrie and an overwhelming desire to protect the rights of
Filipina women abused by a foreign employer.
Despite the hurdle of forum non convenience hurled upon by Saudia, the Supreme Court
have clawed the case to its jurisdiction, which it conscientiously did so, to the Philippines
in the interest of public interest. Had it been tried in Saudi, where women have lesser
freedoms than men and are treated as second class individuals, the Filipina Flight
Attendants in this case would not have had afforded relief they had been granted to in
this case.
In the words of the young Associate Justice:
First, there is no basis for concluding that the case can be more
conveniently tried elsewhere. As established earlier, Saudia is
doing business in the Philippines. For their part, all four (4)
respondents are Filipino citizens maintaining residence in the
Philippines and, apart from their previous employment with
Saudia, have no other connection to the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia. It would even be to respondents inconvenience if
this case were to be tried elsewhere. (Emphasis)
This is a notable illustrative case where the Supreme Court came to the succor of helpless
victims of discrimination against women who are hitting stones against the walls of a
male dominated society such as Saudi. Moreover, it portrayed the Supreme Courts
power to knock down the ideology of capitalism which looks at human as dispensable
resources which they can buy and dispose by their whims and caprices.

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There was a certain air of socialism, feminism, and humanism that shrouded this simple
yet power decision. More than a triumphant moving force in the realm of labor law and
human capital management, it stirs and awakens the readers social consciousness that
the courts can correct the societal realities that is naturally skewed in favor of capital by
championing the rights of the proletariat when the circumstances call of it. In this case,
the Supreme Court did not only champion the working class, it also championed
thousands of women who are discriminated upon by the sole reason that they are
women. It also championed the Filipino peoples collective strength when it made a stand
that no foreigner can make a Filipino alien and discriminated to his home country.