BPI Employees v. BPI (G.R. No.178699; September 21, 2011)


FACTS: On December 14, 1995, Zenaida Uy's services as a bank teller in BPI's Escolta Branch was terminated on grounds of gross disrespect/discourtesy towards an officer, insubordination and absence without leave. Uy, together with the Union, thus filed a case for illegal dismissal. The Voluntary Arbitrator rendered a Decision finding Uy's dismissal as illegal and ordering BPI to immediately reinstate Uy and to pay her full back wages,including all her other benefits under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)and attorney's fees. The CA affirmed with modification the Decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator. Instead of reinstatement, the CA ordered BPI to pay Uy her separation pay. Further, instead of full back wages, the CA fixed Uy's back wages to three years. The case eventually reached the SC when both parties separately filed petitions for review oncertiorari. While BPI's petition which was docketed as G.R. No. 137856 was denied for failure to comply with the requirements of a valid certification of non-forum shopping,Uy's and the Union's petition which was docketed as G.R. No. 137863 was given due course and directed the respondent BPI to pay petitioner UY backwages from the time of her illegal dismissal until her actual reinstatement and ordered reinstatement.

After the Decision in G.R. No. 137863 became final and executory, Uy and the Union filed with the Office of the Voluntary Arbitrator a Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of Execution. In Uy's computation, she based the amount of her back wages on thecurrentwage level and included all the increases in wages and benefits under the CBA that were granted during the entire period of her illegal dismissal. BPI disputed Uy's/Union's computation arguing that it contains items which are not included in the term "back wages" and that no proof was presented to show that Uy was receiving all the listed items therein before her termination. It claimed that the basis for the computation of back wages should be the employee's wage rateat the time of dismissal.

The Voluntary Arbitrator agreed with Uy's/Union's contention that full back wages should include all wage and benefit increases, including new benefits granted during the period of dismissal. Imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Voluntary Arbitrator, BPI filed with the CA. Uy and the Union alleged that BPI's remedy is not acertioraripetition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court but an appeal from judgments, final orders and resolutions of voluntary arbitrators under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. They also contended that BPI's petition is wanting in substance. Meanwhile, the CA issued a TRO. The CA initially rendered a Decisionupholding that BPI's resort tocertiorariwas proper and that the award of CBA benefits and attorney's fees has legal basis. The CA however found that the Voluntary Arbitrator erroneously computed Uy's back wages based on the current rate. The CA also deleted the award of dental allowance since it was granted in 2002 or more than six years after Uy's dismissal. Both parties thereafter filed their respective motions for reconsideration. The CA amended its decision and upheld the propriety of BPI's resort tocertiorari. The CA ruled that the computation of Uy's full back wages, as defined underRepublic Act No. 6715, should be based on the basic salary at the time of her dismissal plus the regular allowances that she had been receiving likewise at the time of her dismissal. It held that any increase in the basic salary occurring after Uy's dismissal as well as all benefits given after said dismissal should not be awarded to her in consonance with settled jurisprudence on the matter. From the foregoing Amended Decision, both parties separately filed petitions before this Court. Uy's and the Union's petition is docketed as G.R. No178699, and that of BPI is docketed as G.R. No. 178735. The Court resolved to consolidate both petitions in a Resolution dated September 3, 2007.

ISSUE: Shoud the basis of the computation of backwages be the wage rate at the time of dismissal?

HELD: The full backwages, as referred to in the body of the decision pertains to "backwages"as defined in Republic Act No. 6715. Under said law, and as provided in numerous jurisprudence, "full backwages" means backwages without any deduction or qualification, including benefits or their monetary equivalent the employee is enjoying at the time of his dismissal, that is, "unqualified by any wage increases or other benefits that may have been received by co-workers who were not dismissed." It is likewise settled that the base figure to be used in the computation of back wages is pegged at the wage rate at the time of the employee's dismissal unqualified by deductions, increases and/or modifications. Hence, Petitioner Uy was granted full backwages computed from the time of her dismissal on December 14, 1995 up to her reinstatement on August 1, 2006 including benefits which were proven to be received by her at the time of her dismissal.Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides that no appeal may be taken from an order of execution, the remedy of an aggrieved party being an appropriate special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Thus, BPI correctly availed of the remedy of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court when it assailed the December 6, 2005 order of execution of the Voluntary Arbitrator. GRANTED.