Almirante: Labor-only contractor-A A +A
Friday, July 20, 2012
Dominador A. Almirante
Labor case digest
RESPONDENT Hilaria Cruz worked at the petitioner Garden of Memories Memorial Park as a utility worker. She filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and money claims against petitioner.
Garden Memories denied liability for the claims of Cruz and asserted that she was not an employee but that of co-petitioner Paulina T. Requiño, its independent service contractor, who maintained the park for a contract price. It insisted that Roquiño undertook the contract of work on her own account, under her own responsibility, and according to her own manner and method, except as to the results thereof. Does this defense prosper?
The requirement of the law in determining the existence of independent contractorship is that the contractor should undertake the work on his own account, under his own responsibility, according to his own manner and method, free from the control and direction of the employer except as to the results thereof. In this case, however, the Service Contract Agreement clearly indicates that Requiño has no discretion to determine the means and manner by which the work is performed. Rather, the work should be in strict compliance with, and subject to, all requirements and standards of Garden of Memories.
Under these circumstances, there is no doubt that Requiño is engaged in labor-only contracting, and is considered merely an agent of Garden of Memories. As such, the workers she supplies should be considered as employees of Garden of Memories.
Consequently, the latter, as principal employer, is responsible to the employees of the labor-only contractor as if such employees have been directly employed by it.
Notably, Cruz was hired as a utility worker tasked to clean, sweep and water the lawn of the memorial park. She performed activities which were necessary or desirable to its principal trade or business. Thus, she was a regular employee of Garden of Memories and cannot be dismissed except for just and authorized causes. (Garden of Memories Park and Life Plan, Inc. and Paulina T. Roquiño vs. NLRC, et. al., G.R. No. 160278, Feb. 8, 2012).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2012.