Cases: Special leave for women under R.A. 9710

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What is a Labor Law Case or Labor Jurisprudence? A Labor Law Case or Labor Jurisprudence is a decision/resolution on a labor dispute by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Per Article 8 of the Civil Code, judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form part of the legal system of the Philippines. 

Table of Contents

These are the related Labor Law Cases or Jurisprudence.

1. Suppletory application of policies on maternity leave

HRET v. Panga-Vega
G.R. No. 228236, 27 January 2021
[BACKGROUND]
On February 2, 2011, [the employee], then Secretary of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), requested authority to avail of the 15 days of special leave benefit under Republic Act (RA) No. 9710, otherwise known as the Magna Carta of Women, on February 7-11, 14-18, and 21-25, 2011, but not to exceed two months, to undergo hysterectomy.
On February 3, 2011, the HRET approved [the employee’s] request for special leave for a period not exceeding two months starting February 7, 2011. On February 7, 2011, she underwent total hysterectomy.
On March 7, 2011, after a month of availing of the special leave, [the employee] informed the HRET Chairperson that she was reassuming her duties and functions. She also presented a medical certificate dated March 5, 2011, stating that there was “no contraindication to resume light to moderate activities.” On March 9, 2011, she explained that the earlier medical certificate did not necessarily indicate her fitness to report for work. Thus, she presented another medical certificate of even date stating that she was already “fit to work” after her physical examination on March 6, 2011.
On March 10, 2011, the HRET directed [the employee] to consume her 2-month special leave given her need for prolonged rest following her hysterectomy, and in view of a pending investigation on her alleged alteration or tampering one minutes of the meeting that could subject her to more stress. On March 14, 2011, she sought reconsideration of this HRET Resolution. On March 24, 2011, the HRET denied reconsideration reiterating her need to rest, and also, pointing out the confusion and doubts regarding her true medical condition as caused by her medical certificates. On April 13, 2011, [the employee] filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) assailing the March 10, 2011 and March 24, 2011 HRET Resolutions.
On October 9, 2012, the CSC issued a Decision granting the appeal of [the employee]. It ruled that she only needed to present a medical certificate attesting her physical fitness to return to work and need not exhaust the full leave she applied for under RA No. 9710. It was further held that applying the rules on maternity leave, she is entitled to both the commuted money value of the unexpired portion of the special leave and her salary for actual services rendered effective the day she reported back for work. On November 23, 2012, the HRET sought reconsideration, but the CSC denied this in its Resolution dated February 12, 2013.
[DECISION/RESOLUTION – BY THE SUPREME COURT]
Section 18 of RA No. 9710 entitles a woman, who has rendered a continuous aggregate employment service of at least six months for the last 12 months, a special leave of two months with full pay based on her gross monthly compensation following surgery caused by gynecological disorders. In relation to this provision, the case involving [the employee] gives rise to the issue of whether the rules on maternity leave under Sec. 14, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, which provides that the commuted money value of the unexpired portion of the special leave need not be refunded, and that when the employee returns to work before the expiration of her special leave, she may receive both the benefits granted under the maternity leave law and the salary for actual services rendered effective the day she reports for work, may have a suppletory application.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), acknowledges the need to guarantee the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of women through the adoption in the political, social, economic, and cultural fields, of appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure their full development and advancement. Consistent thereto, no less than the fundamental law of the land imposes on the State the duty to protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, as well as facilities and opportunities to enhance their welfare, and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.
In fulfillment of the foregoing obligation under the CEDAW, and the 1987 Philippine Constitution to advance the rights of women, RA No. 9710 was enacted. This law acknowledges the economic, political, and socio­cultural realities affecting their work conditions and affirms their role in nation-building. It guarantees the availability of opportunities, services, and mechanisms that will allow them to actively perform their roles in the family, community, and society. As a social legislation, its paramount consideration is the empowerment of women. Thus, in case of doubt, its provisions must be liberally construed in favor of women as the beneficiaries.
The Court finds it just and more in accord with the spirit and intent of RA No. 9710 to suppletorily apply the rule on maternity leave to the special leave benefit. Similar to the special leave benefit under RA No. 9710, a maternity leave under the Omnibus Rules on Leave seeks to protect the health and welfare of women, specifically of working mothers, as its primary purpose is to afford them some measures of financial aid, and to grant them a period of rest and recuperation in connection with their pregnancies. The special leave benefit should be liberally interpreted to support the female employee so as to give her further means to afford her needs, may it be gynecological, physical, or psychological, for a holistic recuperation. The recovery period may be a trying time that she needs much assistance and compassion to regain her overall wellness. Nothing in RA No. 9710 and the CSC Guidelines bar this more humane interpretation of the provision on special leave benefit.
Anent [the employee’s] s return to work, while RA No. 9710 and the CSC Guidelines do not require that the entire special leave applied for be consumed, certain conditions must be satisfied for its propriety.
Under the CSC Guidelines, a total hysterectomy is classified as a major surgical procedure requiring a minimum period of recuperation of three weeks to a maximum period of two months. Aside from observing this time frame, the employee, before she can return to work, shall present a medical certificate signed by her attending surgeon that she is physically fit to assume the duties of her position.
[The employee] underwent total hysterectomy on February 7, 2011, and decided to return to work on March 7, 2011. As it appears, she was already able to observe a period of recuperation of four weeks. As to the requirement for a medical certificate, it is inconsequential to belabor the seeming deficiency of the first medical certificate dated March 5, 2011, which merely stated that there was no contraindication for her to resume light to moderate activities, as she already presented a medical certificate dated March 9, 2011 signed by her attending obstetrician/gynecologist attesting her physical fitness to report back for work.
Based on these facts on record, the CSC found that [the employee] sufficiently complied with the CSC Guidelines warranting her return to work. The Court accords finality to these findings acknowledging the CSC’s special knowledge and expertise on matters falling under its jurisdiction as an administrative agency, and given the affirmance by the CA.

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