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10/8/2017 G.R. No.

72222

TodayisSunday,October08,2017

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

THIRDDIVISION

G.R.No.72222January30,1989

INTERNATIONALCATHOLICMIGRATIONCOMMISSION,petitioner,
vs.

NATIONALLABORRELATIONSCOMMISSIONandBERNADETTEGALANG,respondents.

FERNAN,C.J.:

The issue to be resolved in the instant case is whether or not an employee who was terminated during the
probationary period of her employment is entitled to her salary for the unexpired portion of her sixmonth
probationaryemployment.

Thefactsofthecaseareundisputed.

Petitioner International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to refugee
serviceatthePhilippineRefugeeProcessingCenterinMorong,Bataanengagedtheservicesofprivaterespondent
Bernadette Galang on January 24, 1983 as a probationary cultural orientation teacher with a monthly salary of
P2,000.00.

Three(3)monthsthereafter,oronApril22,1983,privaterespondentwasinformed,orallyandinwriting,thather
services were being terminated for her failure to meet the prescribed standards of petitioner as reflected in the
performanceevaluationofhersupervisorsduringtheteacherevaluationprogramsheunderwentalongwithother
newlyhiredpersonnel.

Despite her termination, records show that private respondent did not leave the ICMC refugee camp at Morong,
Bataan,butinsteadstayedthereatforafewdaysbeforeleavingforManila,duringwhichtime,shewasobservedby
petitionertobeallegedlyactingstrangely.

On July 24, 1983, private respondent returned to Morong, Bataan on board the service bus of petitioner to
accomplish the clearance requirements. In the evening of that same day, she was found at the Freedom Park of
Morongwetandshiveringfromtherainandactingbizarrely.Shewasthentakentopetitioner'shospitalwhereshe
wasgiventhenecessarymedicalattention.

Two(2)dayslater,oronJuly26,1983,shewastakentoherresidenceinManilaaboardpetitioner'sservicebus.
Thrualetter,herfatherexpressedappreciationtopetitionerfortakingcareofherdaughter.Onthatsameday,her
fatherreceived,onherbehalf,theproportionateamountofher13thmonthpayandtheequivalentofhertwoweek
pay.

On August 22, 1983, private respondent filed a complaint 1 for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and unpaid
wagesagainstpetitionerwiththethenMinistryofLaborandEmployment,prayingforreinstatementwithbackwages,
exemplaryandmoraldamages.

OnOctober8,1983,afterthepartiessubmittedtheirrespectivepositionpapersandotherpleadings,LaborArbiter
PelagioA.Carpiorenderedhisdecisiondismissingthecomplaintforillegaldismissalaswellasthecomplaintfor
moral and exemplary damages but ordering the petitioner to pay private respondent the sum of P6,000.00 as
payment for the last three (3) months of the agreed employment period pursuant to her verbal contract of
employment.2

BothpartiesappealedthedecisiontotheNationalLaborRelationsCommission.Inherappeal,privaterespondent
contended that her dismissal was illegal considering that it was effected without valid cause. On the other hand,
petitionercounteredthatprivaterespondentwhowasemployedforaprobationaryperiodofthree(3)monthscould
not rightfully be awarded P6,000.00 because her services were terminated for failure to qualify as a regular
employeeinaccordancewiththereasonablestandardsprescribedbyheremployer.

On August 22, 1985, the NLRC, by a majority vote of Commissioners Guillermo C. Medina and Gabriel M.
Gatchalian, sustained the decision of the Labor Arbiter and thus dismissed both appeals for lack of merit.
CommissionerMiguelVarela,ontheotherhand,dissentedandvotedforthereversaloftheLaborArbiter'sdecision
for lack of legal basis considering that the termination of services of complainant, now private respondent, was
effectedduringherprobationaryperiodonvalidgroundsmadeknowntoher.3

Dissatisfied,petitionerfiledtheinstantpetition.

Petitioner maintains that private respondent is not entitled to the award of salary for the unexpired threemonth
portionoftheprobationaryperiodsinceherserviceswereterminatedduringsuchperiodwhenshefailedtoqualify
as a regular employee in accordance with the reasonable standards prescribed by petitioner that having been
terminatedonvalidgroundsduringherprobationaryperiod,orspecificallyonApril24,1983,petitionerisnotliable
to private respondent for services not rendered during the unexpired threemonth period, otherwise, unjust
enrichmentofherpartwouldresultthatunderArticle282(nowArticle281)oftheLaborCode,iftheemployerfinds
thattheprobationaryemployeesdoesnotmeetthestandardsofemploymentsetfortheposition,theprobationary
employee may be terminated at any time within the sixmonth period, without need of exhausting raid entire six
monthterm.4

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The Solicitor General, on the other hand, contends that a probationary employment for six (6) months, as in the
caseofhereinprivaterespondent,isanemploymentforadefiniteperiodoftimeand,assuch,theemployerisduty
boundtoallowtheprobationaryemployeetoworkuntiltheterminationoftheprobationaryemploymentbeforeher
re employment could be refused that when petitioner disrupted the probationary employment of private
respondent, without giving her the opportunity to improve her method of instruction within the said period, it held
itself liable to pay her salary for the unexpired portion of such employment by way of damages pursuant to the
generalprovisionsofcivillawthathewhoinanymannercontravenesthetermsofhisobligationwithoutanyvalid
cause shall be liable for damages 5 that, as held in Madrigal v. Ogilvie, et al, 6 the damages so awarded are
equivalenttohersalaryfortheunexpiredportionofheremploymentforafixedperiod.7

Wefindforpetitioner.

There is justifiable basis for the reversal of public respondent's award of salary for the unexpired threemonth
portionofprivaterespondent'ssixmonthprobationaryemploymentinthelightofitsexpressfindingthattherewas
no illegal dismissal. There is no dispute that private respondent was terminated during her probationary period of
employmentforfailuretoqualifyasaregularmemberofpetitioner'steachingstaffinaccordancewithitsreasonable
standards.Recordsshowthatprivaterespondentwasfoundbypetitionertobedeficientinclassroommanagement,
teacherstudentrelationshipandteachingtechniques. 8Failuretoqualifyasaregularemployeeinaccordancewith
the reasonable standards of the employer is a just cause for terminating a probationary employee specifically
recognizedunderArticle282(nowArticle281)oftheLaborCodewhichprovidesthus:

ART. 281. Probationaryemployment. Probationary employment shall not exceed six months from
thedatetheemployeestartedworking,unlessitiscoveredbyanapprenticeshipagreementstipulating
alongerperiod.Theservicesofanemployerwhohasbeenengagedinaprobationarybasismaybe
terminated for a just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employer in accordance with
reasonablestandardmadeknownbytheemployertotheemployeratthetimeofhisengagement.An
employeewhoisallowedtoworkafteraprobationaryperiodshallbeconsideredaregularemployee.
(Emphasissupplied.)

It must be noted that notwithstanding the finding of legality of the termination of private respondent, public
respondentjustifiedtheawardofsalaryfortheunexpiredportionoftheprobationaryemploymentonthegroundthat
aprobationaryemploymentforsix(6)monthsisanemploymentfora"definiteperiod"whichrequirestheemployer
toexhausttheentireprobationaryperiodtogivetheemployeetheopportunitytomeettherequiredstandards.

Thelegalbasisofpublicrespondentiserroneous.Aprobationaryemployee,asunderstoodunderArticle282(now
Article281)oftheLaborCode,isonewhoisontrialbyanemployerduringwhichtheemployerdetermineswhether
or not he is qualified for permanent employment. A probationary appointment is made to afford the employer an
opportunitytoobservethefitnessofaprobationerwhileatwork,andtoascertainwhetherhewillbecomeaproper
and efficient employee. 9 The word "probationary", as used to describe the period of employment, implies the
purposeofthetermorperiod,butnotitslength.10

Beinginthenatureofa"trialperiod"11theessenceofaprobationaryperiodofemploymentfundamentallyliesinthe
purposeorobjectivesoughttobeattainedbyboththeemployerandtheemployeeduringsaidperiod.Thelengthof
timeisimmaterialindeterminingthecorrelativerightsofbothindealingwitheachotherduringsaidperiod.While
theemployer,asstatedearlier,observesthefitness,proprietyandefficiencyofaprobationertoascertainwhether
heisqualifiedforpermanentemployment,theprobationer,ontheother,seekstoprovetotheemployer,thathehas
thequalificationstomeetthereasonablestandardsforpermanentemployment.

Itiswellsettledthattheemployerhastherightorisatlibertytochoosewhowillbehiredandwhowillbedenied
employment.Inthatsense,itiswithintheexerciseoftherighttoselecthisemployeesthattheemployermaysetor
fixaprobationaryperiodwithinwhichthelattermaytestandobservetheconductoftheformerbeforehiringhim
permanently. The equality of right that exists between the employer and the employee as to the nature of the
probationaryemploymentwasaptlyemphasizedbythisCourtinGrandMotorPartsCorporationv.MinisterofLabor,
etal.,130SCRA436(1984),citingthe1939caseofPampangaBus.Co.,Inc.v.PambuscoEmployeesUnion,Inc.
68Phil.541,thus:

Therightofalaborertosellhislabortosuchpersonsashemaychooseis,initsessence,thesameas
therightofanemployertopurchaselaborfromanypersonwhomitchooses.Theemployerandthe
employeehavethusanequalityofrightguaranteedbytheConstitution.Iftheemployercancompelthe
employeetoworkagainstthelatter'swill,thisisservitude.Iftheemployeecancompeltheemployerto
givehimworkagainsttheemployer'swill,thisisoppression.

As the law now stands, Article 281 of the Labor Code gives ample authority to the employer to terminate a
probationary employee for a just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with
reasonable standards made known by the employer to the employee at the time of his engagement. There is
nothing under Article 281 of the Labor Code that would preclude the employer from extending a regular or a
permanent appointment to an employee once the employer finds that the employee is qualified for regular
employment even before the expiration of the probationary period. Conversely, if the purpose sought by the
employerisneitherattainednorattainablewithinthesaidperiod,Article281oftheLaborCodedoesnotlikewise
precludetheemployerfromterminatingtheprobationaryemploymentonjustifiablecausesasintheinstantcase.

Wefindunmeritorious,therefore,publicrespondentsargumentthatthesecurityoftenureofprobationaryemployees
withintheperiodoftheirprobation,asinthecaseofhereinprivaterespondent,justifiedtheawardofsalaryforthe
unexpiredportionofherprobationaryemployment.Theterminationofprivaterespondentpredicatedonajustcause
negatestheapplicationinthiscaseofthepronouncementinthecaseofBibosov.VictoriesMillingCo.,Inc., 12on
therightofsecurityoftenureofprobationaryemployees.

UponinquirybythethenMinistryofLaborandEmploymentasaconsequenceoftheillegaldismissalcasefiledby
private respondent before it, docketed as Case No. NLRC NCR8378683, it was found that there was no illegal
dismissalinvolvedinthecase,hence,thecircumventionoftherightsoftheprobationaryemployeessoughttobe
regulatedaspointedoutinBibosov.VictoriasMillingCo.,Inc.,13iswanting.

Therewasnoshowing,asborneoutbytherecords,thattherewascircumventionoftherightsofprivaterespondent
whenshewasinformedofhertermination.Herdismissaldoesnotappeartousasarbitrary,fancifulorwhimsical.
Private respondent was duly notified, orally and in writing, that her services as cultural orientation teacher were
terminated for failure to meet the prescribed standards of petitioner as reflected in the performance evaluation

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conducted by her supervisors during the teacher evaluating program. The dissatisfaction of petitioner over the
performanceofprivaterespondentinthisregardisalegitimateexerciseofitsprerogativetoselectwhomtohireor
refuse employment for the success of its program or undertaking. More importantly, private respondent failed to
showthattherewasunlawfuldiscriminationinthedismissal.

Itwasthusagraveabuseofdiscretiononthepartofpublicrespondenttoorderpetitionertopayprivaterespondent
hersalaryforthe unexpiredthreemonthportionofhersixmonthprobationaryemploymentwhenshewasvalidly
terminatedduringherprobationaryemployment.Tosanctionsuchactionwouldnotonlybeunjust,butoppressive
onthepartoftheemployerasemphasizedinPampangaBusCo.,Inc.,v.PambuscoEmployerUnion,Inc.14

WHEREFORE,inviewoftheforegoing,thepetitionisGRANTED.TheResolutionoftheNationalLaborRelations
CommissiondatedAugust22,1985,isherebyREVERSEDandSETASIDEinsofarasitorderedpetitionertopay
private respondent her P6,000.00 salary for the unexpired portion of her sixmonth probationary employment. No
cost.

SOORDERED.

Gutierrez,Jr.,Feliciano,BidinandCortes,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes

1Records,P.1.

2Records,p.93.

3Rollo,pp.912.

4Rollo,pp.4345.

5Article1170oftheCivilCode.

6104Phil.749.

7Rollo,pp.2936.

8Annexes'A","A1toA5"'B',Records,pp.2127.

934WordsandPhrases113,citing53P.S.s9370,9377McCartneyv.Johnston,191A.121,124,326
Pa.442.'

10Id.,at115,citingPeoplev.Kearney,58N.E.14,15,164N.Y.64.

11Id.,at114,citingApplicationofWilliams,150N.Y.S.2d420,423,1Misc.2d804.

1276SCRA250(1977).

13Supra.

14Supra.

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