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MERCADO v.

NLRC

FACTS: Petitioners were agricultural workers utilized by private respondents in all the agricultural
phases of work on the 7 and ½ hectares of rice land and 10 hectares of sugar land owned by the latter.
Some of them worked in the farm since 1949, others since 1972, and rest from 1960 up to 1979. They
allege that they were illegally dismissed from their employment. Respondent denied that petitioners
were regular employees and interposed that she only engaged their services to do a particular phase
of agricultural work necessary in rice/sugar cane production, after which, they would be free to render
services to other farm owners who need their services. The LA ruled that they are not regular and
permanent workers, they only worked for a definite period of time, and upon appeal, the NLRC affirmed
the LA.

ISSUE: WON they are regular employees.

RULING: NO. The petitioners contend that the second paragraph of the provision of the labor code on
the kinds of employees (re: casual employment) should apply to them. The Court disagrees. The
finding of the LA that the very nature of the terms and conditions of their hiring reveal that the petitioners
were required to perform phases of agricultural work for a definite period, after which their services are
available to any farm owner is correct. The Court does not give due regard to the arguments of the
petitioners that they worked continuously the whole year round for twelve hours a day. They
considered it an exaggeration which does not deserve any serious consideration inasmuch as
the plan of rice and sugar cane does not entail a whole year operation.

The proviso in the second paragraph of Art. 280 was not designed to stifle small-scale businesses nor
to oppress agricultural land owners to further the interests of laborers, whether agricultural or industrial.
What it seeks to eliminate are abuses of employers against their employees and not, as petitioners
would have us believe, to prevent small-scale businesses from engaging in legitimate methods to
realize profit. Hence, the proviso is applicable only to the employees who are deemed "casuals"
but not to the "project" employees nor the regular employees treated in paragraph one of Art.
280.

Clearly, therefore, petitioners being project employees, or, to use the correct term, seasonal
employees, their employment legally ends upon completion of the project or the season. The
termination of their employment cannot and should not constitute an illegal dismissal.
UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR MILLING CORP. v. ACIBO

FACTS: Petitioner corporation is a domestic corporation engaged in the sugar cane milling business,
while Petitioner Cabati is the Business Unit’s General Manager. Respondents were employees of
petitioner. They were hired on various dates and on different capacities. At the beginning of their
engagements, they signed contracts of employment for a period of 1 month or for a given season.
They were repeatedly hired to perform the same duties and were required to sign new contracts for the
same span of time. In 2002, respondents filed before the LA complaints for regularization, among
others. The LA dismissed the complaint for lack of merit and held that they were seasonal or project
workers and not regular employees of petitioner. Because of this, they cannot be regularized because
their respective employments were conterminous with the phase of the work or special project to which
they were assigned. The NLRC reversed such ruling and declared them as regular employees. The
CA upheld the portion of the NLRC’s decision that they are indeed regular employees.

ISSUE: WON the respondents are regular employees.

RULING: They are regular seasonal employees. Seasonal employment operates much in the same
way as project employment, albeit it involves work or service that is seasonal in nature or lasting for the
duration of the season. As with project employment, although the seasonal employment arrangement
involves work that is seasonal or periodic in nature, the employment itself is not automatically
considered seasonal so as to prevent the employee from attaining regular status. To exclude the
asserted "seasonal" employee from those classified as regular employees, the employer must
show that: (1) the employee must be performing work or services that are seasonal in nature;
and (2) he had been employed for the duration of the season.

Hence, when the "seasonal" workers are continuously and repeatedly hired to perform the same
tasks or activities for several seasons or even after the cessation of the season, this length of
time may likewise serve as badge of regular employment. In fact, even though denominated as
"seasonal workers," if these workers are called to work from time to time and are only temporarily laid
off during the off-season, the law does not consider them separated from the service during the
off-season period. The law simply considers these seasonal workers on leave until re-employed.

In relation to the facts: first, the respondents were they were tasked to perform duties regularly and
habitually needed in URSUMCO’s operations during the milling season. The respondents’ duties were
necessary to haul and transport the sugarcane from the plantation to the mill, to ensure the smooth and
continuous operation of the mill for the duration of the milling season, as distinguished from the
production of the sugarcane which involves the planting and raising of the sugarcane until it ripens for
milling. The production of sugarcane, it must be emphasized, requires a different set of workers who
are experienced in farm or agricultural work. Needless to say, they perform the activities that are
necessary and desirable in sugarcane production. As in the milling of sugarcane, the plantation
workers perform their duties only during the planting season. Second, the respondents were regularly
and repeatedly hired to perform the same tasks year after year. This regular and repeated hiring
of the same workers (two different sets) for two separate seasons has put in place, principally through
jurisprudence, the system of regular seasonal employment in the sugar industry and other industries
with a similar nature of operations. Under the system, the plantation workers or the mill employees
do not work continuously for one whole year but only for the duration of the growing of the
sugarcane or the milling season. Their seasonal work, however, does not detract from
considering them in regular employment.
ABASOLO v. NLRC

FACTS: Respondent is engaged in the business of buying, selling, redrying, and processing tobacco
leaves and its by-products. Tobacco season starts sometime in October and after the seeds are
germinated they are ready for replanting in November. The seeds are harvested mid-February and are
sold for redrying from the end of February, which begins in March until August or September. Petitioners
were employees of respondent for several years until this was abruptly interrupted by a change of
ownership its consequences with regard to their status of employment. The LA dismissed the
complaint, the NLRC affirmed the dismissal because of allegations stating that they refused to work
with the new owner despite the notice to petitioners of the necessity of workers at one of its plants.

ISSUE: WON they are regular employees.

RULING: YES, they are regular employees. The nature of one’s employment does not depend solely
on the will or word of the employer nor on the procedure for hiring and the manner of designating the
employee, but on the nature of the activities to be performed by the employee, considering the
employers nature of business and the duration and scope of work to be done. In the case at bar,
while it may appear that the work of petitioners is seasonal, inasmuch as petitioners have served the
company for many years, some for over 20 years, performing services necessary and indispensable to
LUTORCOs business, serve as badges of regular employment.

Moreover, the fact that petitioners do not work continuously for one whole year but only for the duration
of the tobacco season does not detract from considering them in regular employment since in a
litany of cases this Court has already settled that seasonal workers who are called to work from time to
time and are temporarily laid off during off-season are not separated from service in said period, but
are merely considered on leave until re-employed.