CASE DIGEST: Intel Technology v. NLRC

G.R. No. 200575 : February 5, 2014




Cabiles was initially hired by Intel Phil. on April 16, 1997 as an Inventory Analyst. He was subsequently promoted several times over the years and was also assigned at Intel Arizona and Intel Chengdu. He later applied for a position at Intel Semiconductor Limited Hong Kong (Intel HK). He received a letter offering the position of Finance Manager by Intel HK. Before accepting the offer, he inquired from Intel Phil., through an email the consequences of accepting the newly presented opportunity in Hong Kong. He asked the process he need to go through regarding the benefits and clearances in Intel Phils and would an email notification be enough. He also clarified whether he will receive retirement benefits considering he will be in the service for 10 years on April 16, 2007 with Intel and should he accept the offer of Intel HK, will the 9.5 years in the service be rounded of to 10 years.

Intel Phil., through Penny Gabronino (Gabronino), replied that he will not be eligible to receive his retirement benefit not having reached 10 years of service at the time he moved to Hong Kong. Further, Intel do not round up the years of service.

In case he move back to the Philippines his total tenure of service will be computed less on the period that you are out of Intel Philippines.

On January 31, 2007, Cabiles signed the job offer.

On March 8, 2007, Intel Phil. issued Cabiles his "Intel Final Pay Separation Voucher" indicating a net payout ofP165,857.62. On March 26, 2007, Cabiles executed a Release, Waiver and Quitclaim in favor of Intel Phil. acknowledging receipt of P165,857.62 as full and complete settlement of all benefits due him by reason of his separation from Intel Phil.

On September 8, 2007, after seven (7) months of employment, Cabiles resigned from Intel HK.

About two years thereafter, Cabiles filed a complaint for non-payment of retirement benefits and for moral and exemplary damages with the NLRC. He insisted that he was employed by Intel for 10 years and 5 months from April 1997 to September 2007 a period which included his seven (7) month stint with Intel HK. Thus, he believed he was qualified to avail of the benefits under the company's retirement policy allowing an employee who served for 10 years or more to receive retirement benefits.

The LA held that Cabiles did not sever his employment with Intel Phil. when he moved to Intel HK, similar to the instances when he was assigned at Intel Arizona and Intel Chengdu.

On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the LA decision. It determined that his decision to move to Intel HK was not definitive proof of permanent severance of his ties with Intel Phil. It treated his transfer to Hong Kong as akin to his overseas assignments in Arizona and Chengdu. As to the email exchange between Cabiles and Intel Phil., the NLRC considered the same as insufficient to diminish his right over retirement benefits under the law. Meanwhile, the NLRC disregarded the Waiver because at the time it was signed, the retirement pay due him had not yet accrued.

Aggrieved, Intel Phil. elevated the case to the CA via a petition for certiorari with application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The application for TRO was denied. A motion for reconsideration, was filed, but it was also denied in a Resolution, which also dismissed the petition for certiorari.

Intel Phil. filed a motion for reconsideration.

The NLRC issued a writ of execution against Intel Phil. to pay P3,201,398.60 and P31,510.00 representing the execution fees.

Intel Phil. satisfied the judgment on by paying the amount of P3,201,398.60 which included the applicable withholding taxes due and paid to the BIR. Cabiles received a net amount ofP2,485,337.35, covered by a BPI Managers check.

Intel Phil. filed restitution of all the amounts paid by them pursuant to the NLRC's writ of execution and the NLRC order.

Intel filed a petition for review, however, the CA dismissed the same, affirming the NLRC decision.

ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in ruling that private respondent was entitled to retire under Intel Philippines retirement plan.

HELD: The Court of Appeals decision is reversed.

LABOR LAW Resignation

Resignation is the formal relinquishment of an office,the overt act of which is coupled with an intent to renounce. This intent could be inferred from the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation.

In contemplating whether to accept the offer from Intel HK, Cabiles wrote Intel Phil. through Gabronino. This communication manifested two of his main concerns: a) clearance procedures; and b) the probability of getting his retirement pay despite the non-completion of the required 10 years of employment service. Beyond these concerns, however, was his acceptance of the fact that he would be ending his relationship with Intel Phil. as his employer. The words he used - local hire, close, clearance denote nothing but his firm resolve to voluntarily disassociate himself from Intel Phil. and take on new responsibilities with Intel HK.

His acceptance of the offer meant letting go of the retirement benefits he now claims as he was informed through email correspondence that his 9.5 years of service with Intel Phil. would not be rounded off in his favor. He, thus, placed himself in this position, as he chose to be employed in a company that would pay him more than what he could earn in Chengdu or in the Philippines.

LABOR LAW Theory of Secondment

Cabiles views his employment in Hong Kong as an assignment or an extension of his employment with Intel Phil.

The continuity, existence or termination of an employer-employee relationship in a typical secondment contract or any employment contract for that matter is measured by the following yardsticks: 1. the selection and engagement of the employee; 2. the payment of wages; 3. the power of dismissal; and 4. the employers power to control the employees conduct. Victorio Meteor v. Creative Creatures Inc, G.R. No. 171275, July 13, 2009

As applied, all of the above benchmarks ceased upon Cabiles assumption of duties with Intel HK on February 1, 2007. Intel HK became the new employer.

Undoubtedly, Cabiles decision to move to Hong Kong required the abandonment of his permanent position with Intel Phil. in order for him to assume a position in an entirely different company. Clearly, the "transfer" was more than just an assignment. It constituted a severance of Cabiles relationship with Intel Phil., for the assumption of a position with a different employer, rank, compensation and benefits.

Hence, Cabiles theory of secondment must fail.

What distinguishes Intel Chengdu and Intel Arizona from Intel HK is the lack of intervention of Intel Phil. on the matter. In the two previous transfers, Intel Phil. remained as the principal employer while Cabiles was on a temporary assignment.

LABOR LAW - Release, Waiver and Quitclaim

Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. But where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking. Goodrich Manufacturing Corporation, v. Ativo, G.R. No. 188002, February 1, 2010

Suffice it to state that nothing is clearer than the words used in the Waiver duly signed by Cabiles - that all claims, in the present and in the future, were waived in consideration of his receipt of the amount of P165,857.62. Because the waiver included all present and future claims, the non-accrual of benefits cannot be used as a basis in awarding retirement benefits to him.

LABOR LAW Retirement benefits

Cabiles is not entitled to the Retirement Benefits

Having effectively resigned before completing his 10th year anniversary with Intel Phil. and after having validly waived all the benefits due him, if any, Cabiles is hereby declared ineligible to receive the retirement pay pursuant to the retirement policy of Intel Phil.

For that reason, Cabiles must return all the amounts he received from Intel Phil. pursuant to the Writ of Execution issued by the NLRC.

The petition is granted.