The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines guarantees the right to security of tenure in favor of employees. This right ensures that an employee cannot be dismissed from employment without due process of law. This guarantee extends to all employees working in the Philippines – whether a Filipino or a foreigner.
Dosch v. Northwest Airlines, Inc.
En Banc, G.R. No. L-51182, 05 July 1983
[The employee – an American and resident Manager of the company – was dismissed for his refusal to be promoted which required him to go back to the U.S.]
There can be no dispute that the constitutional guarantee of security of tenure mandated under Section 9, Article 2, 1973 Constitution applies to all employees and laborers, whether in the government service or in the private sector.
The guarantee makes sense in light of the fact that employment is usually the only means of livelihood for many employees. When employees lose their job, it usually affects not only them but also their families. They tend to undergo hardships and difficulties. This is more pronounced in employees who earn the minimum wage.
Accordingly, as an act of social justice, the 1987 Constitution ensures and guarantees the right to security of tenure in favor of the employees who usually have less in life compared to the employer. It is thus the law itself that intervenes and tilts the scales in favor of the employees.
Rance v. National Labor Relations Commission
G.R. No. L-68147, 30 June 1988
It is the policy of the state to assure the right of workers to ‘security of tenure’ (Article XIII, Sec. 3 of the New Constitution, Section 9, Article II of the 1973 Constitution). The guarantee is an act of social justice. When a person has no property, his job may possibly be his only possession or means of livelihood. Therefore, he should be protected against any arbitrary deprivation of his job. Article 280 of the Labor Code has construed security of tenure as meaning that ‘the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by’ the code… Dismissal is not justified for being arbitrary where the workers were denied due process… and a clear denial of due process, or constitutional right must be safeguarded against at all times… This is especially true in the case at bar where there were 125 workers mostly heads or sole breadwinners of their respective families.
Time and again, this Court has reminded employers that while the power to dismiss is a normal prerogative of the employer, the same is not without limitations. The employer is bound to exercise caution in terminating the services of his employees especially so when it is made upon the request of a labor union pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as in the instant case. Dismissals must not be arbitrary and capricious. Due process must be observed in dismissing an employee because it affects not only his position but also his means of livelihood. Employers should, therefore, respect and protect the rights of their employees, which include the right to labor”, among others.
In the case at bar, the scandalous haste with which the employer corporation dismissed 125 employees lends credence to the claim that there was connivance between the employer corporation and the company Union. It is evident that the employers and the company union were in bad faith in dismissing employees. They, the employers, are guilty of unfair labor practice. (Emphasis supplied.)
The right to security of tenure is the primary consideration to take note of when conducting disciplinary action, especially if the penalty might be a dismissal.
Many employers make the mistake of telling employees not to return for work (“huwag ka nang babalik sa trabaho”) in the heat of the moment. As this form of dismissal is non-compliant with due process termination, these companies often find themselves liable for illegal dismissal.
Further, some employers make the mistake of following western movies on employees being fired. When an employer at once says “you’re fired!”, this is a recipe for an illegal dismissal. There cannot and should not be any dismissal in this form as the concerned employee should be given the opportunity first to explain.
While other countries allow immediate termination in the form of at-will employment, it is not allowed under Philippine labor law. The next section discusses this more.