Just Causes

Summary

⦁ Just causes are grounds for termination of employment due to employee violations.

⦁ The employer is justified dismissing an employee for just cause.

⦁ There are standards for each just cause set or prescribed by Supreme Court Decisions or Jurisprudence, as well as DOLE regulations.

⦁ There are analogous causes to just causes found in Supreme Court Decisions or Jurisprudence.

⦁ If there is no just cause in the termination of employment, the employer may be held liable for illegal dismissal.

2. Concept

“Just causes” – refer to “those instances enumerated under Article 297 [Termination by Employer] of the Labor Code, as amended. These are causes directly attributable to the fault or negligence of the employee.” (Section 4 [b], Rule I-A, Ibid.)

Otherwise stated, just causes are grounds for termination of employment.

They are called just causes because the termination of employment is justified due to an employee’s actions, behavior, or omission, either of which resulted in a serious or grave violation of the law, employment contract, company policies, collective bargaining agreement, and any other employment agreement.

In these situations, and in the exercise of its management prerogative, the employer is justified in imposing the penalty of dismissal on the erring employee.

3. Coverage

Just causes cover all employees, regardless of rank or status, whether rank-and-file, supervisory, managerial in rank, as well as whether regular, probationary, casual, project, seasonal, or fixed-term.

4. The just causes

The Labor Code provides for the following just causes:

1) Serious misconduct;

2) Willful disobedience of a lawful order;

3) Gross and habitual neglect of duty;

4) Fraud;

5) Willful breach of trust;

6) Commission of a crime against the person of the employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representatives; and

7. Analogous causes.

a. Standards for just causes

Standards have been set or prescribed for each just cause through Supreme Court Decisions and DOLE regulations, such as DOLE Department Order No. 147, series of 2015 (DOLE D.O. 147-15).

5. Consequence if no just cause

If there is no just cause in the termination of employment of an employee, the employer shall be held liable for illegal dismissal.

Only the absence of a just cause for the termination of employment can make the dismissal of an employee illegal. (Serrano v. NLRC, G.R. No. 117040, 27 January 2000)

Art. 279. Security of Tenure. — In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement. (P.D. 442, Labor Code)

If the employee’s separation is without cause, instead of being given separation pay, he should be reinstated. In either case, whether he is reinstated or only granted separation pay, he should be paid full backwages if he has been laid off without written notice at least 30 days in advance. (Serrano v. NLRC, G.R. No. 117040, 27 January 2000)

On the other hand, with respect to dismissals for cause under Art. 282, if it is shown that the employee was dismissed for any of the just causes mentioned in said Art. 282, then, in accordance with that article, he should not be reinstated. However, he must be paid backwages from the time his employment was terminated until it is determined that the termination of employment is for a just cause because the failure to hear him before he is dismissed renders the termination of his employment without legal effect. (Serrano v. NLRC, G.R. No. 117040, 27 January 2000)

References

1987 Philippine Constitution

Book VI, Presidential Decree No. 442, a.k.a. Labor Code of the Philippines

DOLE Department Order No. 147, Series of 2015

/Updated: December 27, 2022

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