Presumption of regular employment


The Court resolves to GRANT the Motion for Extension of Time filed by the petitioner seeking an additional period of 30 days from the expiration of the reglementary period within which to file its Petition for Review on Certiorari.

Considering the allegations, issues, and arguments adduced in the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari of the August 25, 2017 Decision and May 3, 2018 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 149238, the Court resolves to DENY the same for failure of the petitioner to show that the CA committed any reversible error in issuing the said assailed Decision and Resolution as to warrant the exercise of this Court's discretionary appellate jurisdiction.

A careful consideration of the Petition further indicates petitioner's failure to show any cogent reason why the actions of the Labor Arbiter, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the CA, which have passed upon the same issue raised in the present Petition, should be reversed. Petitioner failed to show that their decisions were contrary to applicable law and jurisprudence.

The Court finds no compelling reason to doubt the uniform findings of the three tribunals that respondents were regular employees of petitioner DB & B Philippines, Inc. after having been continuously employed for services which were vital, necessary and indispensable to the usual business and trade of petitioner; and thus, were not project employees.

In Omni Hauling Services, Inc. v. Bon,[1] the principal test for determining whether particular employees were properly characterized as "project employees" as distinguished from "regular employees," was whether or not the employees were assigned to carry out a "specific project or undertaking," the duration (and scope) of which were specified at the time they were engaged for that project. As aptly held by the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC and the CA, no proof was adduced to show that respondents knowingly agreed to an employment status as project employees at the time they were engaged. They were correct in observing that there was no evidence showing that respondents signed an employment contract at the onset of their employment (in 2009 for respondent Vincent De Luna Mamadis and in 2007 for respondent Jose Ricaña) explicitly stating that they were going to be hired for a specific project. There was also no evidentiary proof that respondents were duly apprised of the project-based nature of their employment. Petitioner's submission of project payroll forms and identification cards did not help to substantiate its claim. As respondents were not clearly informed of their employment status as project employees, with the duration and scope of the project specified at the time they were engaged, the presumption of regular employment should be accorded in their favor.[2]

Having gained regular status, respondents could only be dismissed for just or authorized causes. Petitioner, however, failed to establish the validity of respondents' dismissal. We, thus, affirm the awards of full backwages and separation pay, as respondents consistently prayed for separation pay instead of reinstatement.

Anent the other money claims of respondents, we affirm the awards of salary differentials, Service Incentive Leave pay, 13th month pay, and holiday pay for failure of petitioner to refute the allegations of non-payment.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court resolves to AFFIRM the assailed August 25, 2017 Decision and May 3, 2018 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 149238.

SO ORDERED. Leonardo-De Castro, J., designated as Acting Chairperson of the First Division per Special Order No. 2559 dated May 11, 2018; Gesmundo, J., designated as Acting Member of the First Division per Special Order No. 2560 dated May 11, 2018.

[1] 742 Phil. 335, 344 (2014).

[2] Id. at 346.