Principle of Co-Determination or Doctrine of Shared Responsibility

This constitutional and legal right is the basis of the principle of co-determination where the employees are given the right to co-determine or share the responsibility of formulating certain policies that affect their rights, benefits and welfare.

Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) v. NLRC and Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), best illustrates this principle. The principal issue submitted for resolution in this case is whether or not the formulation of a Code of Discipline among employees is a shared responsibility of the employer and the employees. If in the affirmative, whether management may be compelled to share with the union or its employees its prerogative of formulating said Code. On March 15, 1985, petitioner PAL completely revised its 1966 Code of Discipline. The Code was circulated among the employees and was immediately implemented, and some employees were forthwith subjected to the disciplinary measures embodied therein. This led private respondent PALEA to file a complaint before the NLRC on August 20, 1985, for unfair labor practice with the following remarks: “ULP with arbitrary implementation of PAL’s Code of Discipline without notice and prior discussion with Union by Management. ” It thus prayed that the implementation of the Code be held in abeyance; that PAL should discuss the substance of the Code with PALEA; that employees dismissed under the Code be reinstated and their cases subjected to further hearing; and that PAL be declared guilty of unfair labor practice and be ordered to pay damages.
In affirming the decision of the NLRC which ordered that the New Code of Discipline should be reviewed and discussed with the union, particularly the disputed provisions and that copies thereof be furnished each employee, the Supreme Court ratiocinated as follows:

“A close scrutiny of the objectionable provisions of the Code reveals that they are not purely business-oriented nor do they concern the management aspect of the business of the company as in the San Miguel case. The provisions of the Code clearly have repercussions on the employees’ right to security of tenure. The implementation of the provisions may result in the deprivation of an employee’s means of livelihood which, as correctly pointed out by the NLRC, is a property right. In view of these aspects of the case which border on infringement of constitutional rights, we must uphold the constitutional requirements for the protection of labor and the promotion of social justice, for these factors, according to Justice Isagani Cruz, tilt ‘the scales of justice when there is doubt, in favor of the worker."

“Verily, a line must be drawn between management prerogatives regarding business operations per se and those which affect the rights of the employees. In treating the latter, management should see to it that its employees are at least properly informed of its decisions or modes of action. PAL asserts that all its employees have been furnished copies of the Code. Public respondents found to the contrary, which finding, to say the least is entitled to great respect. xxx
“Indeed, industrial peace cannot be achieved if the employees are denied their just participation in the discussion of matters affecting their rights. Thus, even before Article 211 of the Labor Code (P.D. 442) was amended by R.A. No. 6715, it was already declared a policy of the State: ‘(d) To promote the enlightenment of workers concerning their rights and obligations . . . as employees. ’ This was, of course, amplified by R.A. No. 6715 when it decreed the ‘participation of workers in decision and policy making processes affecting their rights, duties and welfare. ’ PAL’s position that it cannot be saddled with the ‘obligation’ of sharing management prerogatives as during the formulation of the Code, R.A. No. 6715 had not yet been enacted (Petitioner’s Memorandum, p. 44; Rollo, p. 212) , cannot thus be sustained. While such ‘obligation’ was not yet founded in law when the Code was formulated, the attainment of a harmonious labor-management relationship and the then already existing state policy of enlightening workers concerning their rights as employees demand no less than the observance of transparency in managerial moves affecting employees’ rights. ”

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