Liberal approach in labor law


QUESTION: What is the concept of liberal approach in interpreting the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules and Regulations in favor of labor?

ANSWER: The welfare and well-being of workers should be the paramount consideration in interpreting the Labor Code (the Code) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs).

The reason for this is the constitutional mandate to afford full protection to labor. This mandate is in fact echoed by Article 4 of the Code which provides that "all doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the Labor Code including its implementing rules and regulations shall be resolved in favor of labor."

The Supreme Court held in PLDT v. NLRC that this approach to labor disputes should be read side by side with the Constitution's guarantee of the rights of all workers to security of tenure. Such constitutional right should not be denied on mere speculation of any unclear and nebulous basis. (G.R No. 111933)

The reason for such approach is social justice. The policy is to accommodate the interests of the working class on the humane justification that those who have less in life shall have more in law.
The case of PAL v. Santos hinges on the interpretation of Section 2, Article IV of the PAL-PALEA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

It is not disputed that the grievants knew that division head Reynaldo Abad was then "on leave" when they filed their grievance which was received by Abad’s secretary. This knowledge, however, should not prevent the application of the CBA.

Contrary to PAL's submission, the grievance of employees is not a matter which requires the personal act of Mr. Abad and thus could not be delegated. PAL could at least have assigned an officer-in-charge to look into the grievance and possibly make his recommendation to Mr. Abad.

If the Court were to follow PAL's line of reasoning, it would be easy for management to delay the resolution of labor problems, the complaints of the workers in particular, and hide under the cloak of its officers being "on leave" to avoid being caught by the 5-day deadline under the CBA. If this should be allowed, the workingmen will suffer great injustice for they will necessarily be at the mercy of their employer. That could not have been the intendment of the pertinent provision of the CBA, much less the benevolent policy underlying our labor laws. (G.R. No. 77875)

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