Field Personnel

1. Concept

Field personnel – refers to ‘non-agricultural employees who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of business or branch office of the employer and whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.’ (Paragraph 3, Article 82, P.D.442, Labor Code; See also Section 1[e], Rule II, Book III, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code)

‘As a general rule, [field personnel] are those whose performance of their job/service is not supervised by the employer or his representative, the workplace being away from the principal office and whose hours and days of work cannot be determined with reasonable certainty; hence, they are paid specific amount for rendering specific service or performing specific work. If required to be at specific places at specific times, employees including drivers cannot be said to be field personnel despite the fact that they are performing work away from the principal office of the employee.’ (Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), Advisory Opinion to Philippine Technical-Clerical Commercial Employees Association, 06 April 1989, cited in Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 156367, 16 May 2005, Per Chico-Nazario, J.)

‘[T]he definition of a “field personnel” is not merely concerned with the location where the employee regularly performs is unsupervised by the employer. As discussed above, field personnel are those who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of business of the employer and whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty. Thus, in order to conclude whether an employee is a field employee, it is also necessary to ascertain if actual hours of work in the field can be determined with reasonable certainty by the employer. In so doing, an inquiry must be made as to whether or not the employee’s time and performance are constantly supervised by the employer.’ (Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. v. Bautista [2005], supra.)

2. Requisites

The two (2) requisites for field personnel:

1) That they are unsupervised by the employer or his representative, as the workplace is away from the principal office; and

2) That they work hours and work days cannot be determined with reasonably certainty. (See Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), Advisory Opinion to Philippine Technical-Clerical Commercial Employees Association, 06 April 1989, cited in Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. v. Bautista [2005], supra.)

a. Unsupervised by the employer

Grand Asian Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Galvez, G.R. No. 178184, January 29, 2014, Per Del Castillo, J.:

⦁ [Complainants are vessel crewmembers. The Company is engaged in transporting liquified petroleum gas (LPG).]

⦁ As for Arguelles, Batayola, Fresnillo, Noble, Dominico, Nilmao and Austral, we cannot sustain the argument that they are classified as field personnel under Article 82 of the Labor Code who are likewise excluded. Article 82 defines field personnel as referring to “non-agricultural employees who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of business or branch office of the employer and whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.” They are those who perform functions which “cannot be effectively monitored by the employer or his representative.” Here, respondents, during the entire course of their voyage, remain on board the vessel. They are not field personnel inasmuch as they were constantly supervised and under the effective control of the petitioners through the vessel’s ship captain.

Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 156367, 16 May 2005, Per Chico-Nazario, J.:

⦁ Since 24 May 1995, respondent Antonio Bautista has been employed by petitioner Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. (Autobus), as driver-conductor with travel routes Manila-Tuguegarao via Baguio, Baguio – Tuguegarao via Manila and Manila-Tabuk via Baguio. Respondent was paid on commission basis, seven percent (7%) of the total gross income per travel, on a twice a month basis.

⦁ [The employer was a bus company. On the issue of service incentive leave, the Company appealed the award arguing that the complainant is a field personnel and thus not entitled thereto.]

⦁ [SC Resolution] As observed by the Labor Arbiter and concurred in by the Court of Appeals:

It is of judicial notice that along the routes that are plied by these bus companies, there are its inspectors assigned at strategic places who board the bus and inspect the passengers, the punched tickets, and the conductor’s reports. There is also the mandatory once-a-week car barn or shop day, where the bus is regularly checked as to its mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic aspects, whether or not there are problems thereon as reported by the driver and/or conductor. They too, must be at specific place as [sic] specified time, as they generally observe prompt departure and arrival from their point of origin to their point of destination. In each and every depot, there is always the Dispatcher whose function is precisely to see to it that the bus and its crew leave the premises at specific times and arrive at the estimated proper time. These, are present in the case at bar. The driver, the complainant herein, was therefore under constant supervision while in the performance of this work. He cannot be considered a field personnel.

⦁ We agree in the above disquisition. Therefore, as correctly concluded by the appellate court, respondent is not a field personnel but a regular employee who performs tasks usually necessary and desirable to the usual trade of petitioner’s business. Accordingly, respondent is entitled to the grant of service incentive leave.

Dasco v. Philtranco Service Enterprises, Inc., G.R. No. 211141, June 29, 2016, Per Reyes, J.:

⦁ On various dates from 2006 to 2010, the [complainants] were employed by the [the Company] as bus drivers and/or conductors with travel routes of Manila (Pasay) to Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao, and vice versa.

⦁ On July 4, 2011, the [complainants] filed a case against the [the Company] alleging that: (1) they were already qualified for regular employment status since they have been working with the [the Company] for several years; (2) they were paid only P404.00 per round trip, which lasts from two to five days, without overtime pay and below the minimum wage rate; (3) they cannot be considered as field personnel because their working hours are controlled by the [the Company] from dispatching to end point and their travel time is monitored and measured by the distance because they are in the business of servicing passengers where time is of the essence; and (4) they had not been given their yearly five-day SIL since the time they were hired by the [the Company].

⦁ In response, … [the Company] asserted that: (1) the [complainants] were paid on a fixed salary rate of P0.49 centavos per kilometer run, or minimum wage, whichever is higher; (2) the [complainants] are seasonal employees since their contracts are for a fixed period and their employment was dependent on the exigency of the extraordinary public demand for more buses during peak months of the year; and (3) the [complainants] are not entitled to overtime pay and SIL pay because they are field personnel whose time outside the company premises cannot be determined with reasonable certainty since they ply provincial routes and are left alone in the field unsupervised.

⦁ [SC Resolution] The determination of whether bus drivers and/or conductors are considered as field personnel was already threshed out in the case of Auto Bus Transport Systems, Inc. v. Bautista

⦁ Guided by the foregoing norms [in the above-mentioned case], the NLRC properly concluded that the [complainants] are not field personnel but regular employees who perform tasks usually necessary and desirable to the [the Company]’ business. Evidently, the [complainants] are not field personnel as defined above and the NLRC’s finding in this regard is supported by the established facts of this case: (1) the [complainants], as bus drivers and/or conductors, are directed to transport their passengers at a specified time and place; (2) they are not given the discretion to select and contract with prospective passengers; (3) their actual work hours could be determined with reasonable certainty, as well as their average trips per month; and (4) the [the Company] supervised their time and performance of duties.

⦁ In order to monitor their drivers and/or conductors, as well as the passengers and the bus itself, the bus companies put checkers, who are assigned at tactical places along the travel routes that are plied by their buses. The drivers and/or conductors are required to be at the specific bus terminals at a specified time. In addition, there are always dispatchers in each and every bus terminals, who supervise and ensure prompt departure at specified times and arrival at the estimated proper time. Obviously, these drivers and/or conductors cannot be considered as field personnel because they are under control and constant supervision of the bus companies while in the performance of their work.

⦁ As correctly observed by the NLRC:

[I]t is undisputed that [the [complainants]] as bus drivers/conductors ply specific routes of [PSEI], x x x averaging 2 to 5 days per round trip. They follow fixed time schedules of travel and follow the designated route of [PSEI]. Thus, in carrying out their functions as bus drivers/conductors, they are not at liberty to deviate from the fixed time schedules for departure or arrival or change the routes other than those specifically designated for [PSEI], in accordance with the franchise granted to the [PSEI], as a public utility provider. In other words, [the [complainants]] are clearly under the strict supervision and control of [PSEI] in the performance of their functions otherwise the latter will not be able to carry out its business as public utility service provider in accordance with its franchise.

⦁ The Court agrees with the above-quoted findings of the NLRC. Clearly, the [complainants], as bus drivers and/or conductors, are left alone in the field with the duty to comply with the conditions of… [the Company’s]’ franchise, as well as to take proper care and custody of the bus they are using. Since… [the Company is] engaged in the public utility business, the [complainants], as bus drivers and/or conductors, should be considered as regular employees of the [the Company] because they perform tasks which are directly and necessarily connected with the [the Company’s] business. Thus, they are consequently entitled to the benefits accorded to regular employees of the [the Company], including overtime pay and SIL pay.

Marby Food Ventures Corporation v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 244629, July 28, 2020, Per Reyes, J., Jr., J.:

⦁ [Several Complainants] were all employed by Marby as drivers. [One Complainant was a salesman].

⦁ [SC Resolution] Guided by the [Autobus Transport case], the CA properly resolved that the [Complainants]-employees are not field personnel but regular employees who perform tasks usually necessary and desirable to petitioners’ business. Unmistakably, the [Complainants] are not field personnel as defined above and the CA’s finding in this regard is supported by the established facts of this case: (1) the [Complainants] were directed to do their deliveries at a specified time and place; (2) [Complainants] are required to log their time-in and time-out in the company to ensure accomplishment of their daily deliveries for the day and therefore their actual work hours could be determined with reasonable certainty; and (3) the [Complainants] supervised their time and performance of duties.

⦁ Consequently, [Complainants] are entitled to overtime pay, holiday pay and service incentive leave pay accorded to regular employees…

Mercidar Fishing Corporation v. NLRC, G.R. No. 112574, October 8, 1998, Per Mendoza, J.:

⦁ [The Company] argues essentially that since the work of private respondent is performed away from its principal place of business, it has no way of verifying his actual hours of work on the vessel. It contends that private respondent and other fishermen in its employ should be classified as “field personnel” who have no statutory right to service incentive leave pay.

⦁ [I]n the case at bar, during the entire course of their fishing voyage, fishermen employed by petitioner have no choice but to remain on board its vessel. Although they perform non-agricultural work away from petitioner’s business offices, the fact remains that throughout the duration of their work they are under the effective control and supervision of petitioner through the vessel’s patron or master as the NLRC correctly held.

Alejandro v. Delsann Builders & General Services, Inc., G.R. No. 251891, September 14, 2020, Per Peralta, Jr., J.:

⦁ In this case, the CA aptly pointed out that [the Complaniant] did not observe the usual working hours as he was not required to report for work on a  regular basis and that he was tasked to report for work only whenever there were available orders for delivery. There was also no concrete indication that petitioner’s delivery trips were supervised by Delsann Builders & General Services, Inc. (respondent). What is shown in the Liquidation Reports is a list of the delivery trips undertaken by petitioner with the corresponding amount due by way of commission, cost of repair, and advances obtained by petitioner, if any. Nothing in the evidence on record would show that petitioner was required to be at a specific place at a specified time, or that he was obliged to report his arrival and departure at a specified time. Neither is there any evidence that petitioner was imposed a specific time to effect delivery or that he was subjected to periodic inspections while he was in transit to and from his designated delivery sites. Moreover, the CA rightly affirmed that, as revealed in the Liquidation Reports, petitioner was paid on purely commission basis as he was paid a specific amount for every specific delivery trip he made. Petitioner’s claim that he also received a salary on top of his commissions is completely unsupported by the evidence on record.

⦁ Verily, the CA correctly upheld the finding of the NLRC that petitioner is a field personnel who is paid on purely commission basis. Hence, he is not entitled to either holiday or 13th month pay.

David / Yiels Hog Dealer v. [the Complainant], G.R. No. 195466, July 2, 2014, Per Brion, J.:

⦁ [The Complainant was a butcher. The employer was engaged in the business of dealing hogs.]

⦁ [The Complainant] alleged… that he had been working as a butcher for [the Company] since January 6, 1995. [The Complainant] claimed that [the Company] exercised effective control and supervision over his work, pointing out that [the Company]: (1) set the work day, reporting time and hogs to be chopped, as well as the manner by which he was to perform his work;

⦁ [SC Resolution] Based on the definition of field personnel under Article 82, we agree with the CA that [the Complainant] does not fall under the definition of “field personnel.” The CA’s finding in this regard is supported by the established facts of this case: first, [the Complainant] regularly performed his duties at David’s principal place of business; second, his actual hours of work could be determined with reasonable certainty; and, third, David supervised his time and performance of duties. Since [the Complainant] cannot be considered a “field personnel,” then he is not exempted from the grant of holiday, SIL pay even as he was engaged on “pakyaw” or task basis.

⦁ Not being a “field personnel,” we find the CA to be legally correct when it reversed the NLRC’s ruling dismissing [the Complainant]’s complaint for holiday and SIL pay for having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion.

b. Actual work hours cannot be determined

Union of Filipro Employees (UFE) v. Vivar, Jr., En Banc, G.R. No. 79255, January 20, 1992, Per Gutierrez, Jr., J.:

⦁ The [Union] insists that respondent’s sales personnel are not field personnel under Article 82 of the Labor Code. The respondent company controverts this assertion.

⦁ The controversy centers on the interpretation of the clause “whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.”

⦁ It is undisputed that these sales personnel start their field work at 8:00 a.m. after having reported to the office and come back to the office at 4:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. if they are Makati-based.

⦁ The [Union] maintains that the period between 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. comprises the sales personnel’s working hours which can be determined with reasonable certainty.

⦁ The Court does not agree. The law requires that the actual hours of work in the field be reasonably ascertained. The company has no way of determining whether or not these sales personnel, even if they report to the office before 8:00 a.m. prior to field work and come back at 4:30 p.m, really spend the hours in between in actual field work.

⦁ We concur with the following disquisition by the respondent arbitrator:

The requirement for the salesmen and other similarly situated employees to report for work at the office at 8:00 a.m. and return at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. is not within the realm of work in the field as defined in the Code but an exercise of purely management prerogative of providing administrative control over such personnel. This does not in any manner provide a reasonable level of determination on the actual field work of the employees which can be reasonably ascertained. The theoretical analysis that salesmen and other similarly-situated workers regularly report for work at 8:00 a.m. and return to their home station at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m., creating the assumption that their field work is supervised, is surface projection. Actual field work begins after 8:00 a.m., when the sales personnel follow their field itinerary, and ends immediately before 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. when they report back to their office. The period between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. comprises their hours of work in the field, the extent or scope and result of which are subject to their individual capacity and industry and which “cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.” This is the reason why effective supervision over field work of salesmen and medical representatives, truck drivers and merchandisers is practically a physical impossibility. Consequently, they are excluded from the ten holidays with pay award. (Rollo, pp. 36-37)

⦁ Moreover, the requirement that “actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty” must be read in conjunction with Rule IV, Book III of the Implementing Rules which provides:

Rule IV Holidays with Pay

Sec. 1. Coverage — This rule shall apply to all employees except:

xxx xxx xxx

(e) Field personnel and other employees whose time and performance is unsupervised by the employer . . . (Emphasis supplied)

⦁ While contending that such rule added another element not found in the law (Rollo, p. 13), the [Union] nevertheless attempted to show that its affected members are not covered by the abovementioned rule. The [Union] asserts that the company’s sales personnel are strictly supervised as shown by the SOD (Supervisor of the Day) schedule and the company circular dated March 15, 1984 (Annexes 2 and 3, Rollo, pp. 53-55).

⦁ Contrary to the contention of the [Union], the Court finds that the aforementioned rule did not add another element to the Labor Code definition of field personnel. The clause “whose time and performance is unsupervised by the employer” did not amplify but merely interpreted and expounded the clause “whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.” The former clause is still within the scope and purview of Article 82 which defines field personnel. Hence, in deciding whether or not an employee’s actual working hours in the field can be determined with reasonable certainty, query must be made as to whether or not such employee’s time and performance is constantly supervised by the employer.

⦁ The SOD schedule adverted to by the [Union] does not in the least signify that these sales personnel’s time and performance are supervised. The purpose of this schedule is merely to ensure that the sales personnel are out of the office not later than 8:00 a.m. and are back in the office not earlier than 4:00 p.m.

⦁ Likewise, the Court fails to see how the company can monitor the number of actual hours spent in field work by an employee through the imposition of sanctions on absenteeism contained in the company circular of March 15, 1984.

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