Almirante: Dole Jurisdiction-A A +A
Friday, September 21, 2012
PRIVATE respondent Jandeleon Juezan filed a complaint against petitioner People’s Broadcasting Service (Bombo Radio Philippines, Inc.) with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office 7 in Cebu City, for illegal deduction, non-payment of service incentive leave, 13th month pay and other labor standard benefits.
The DOLE regional director found that private respondent was an employee of petitioner and was entitled to his money claims.
Petitioner claimed that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the DOLE secretary and his duly authorized representative to determine the question of the existence of employer-employee relationship. Is there merit to this claim?
No limitation in the law was placed upon the power of the DOLE to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship. No procedure was laid down where the DOLE would only make a preliminary finding, that the power was primarily held by the NLRC. The law did not say that the DOLE would first seek the NLRC’s determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship, or that should the existence of the employer-employee relationship be disputed, the DOLE would refer the matter to the NLRC. The DOLE must have the power to determine whether or not an employer-employee relationship exists, and from there to decide whether or not to issue compliance orders in accordance with Art. 128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by RA 7730.
The determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship by the DOLE must be respected.
The expanded visitorial and enforcement power of the DOLE granted by RA 7730 would be rendered nugatory if the alleged employer could, by the simple expedient of disputing the employer-employee relationship, force the referral of the matter to the NLRC. The Court issued the declaration that at least a prima facie showing of the absence of an employer-employee relationship be made to oust the DOLE of jurisdiction.
But it is precisely the DOLE that will be faced with that evidence, and it is the DOLE that will weigh it, to see if the same does successfully refute the existence of an employer-employee relationship.
If the DOLE makes a finding that there is an existing employer-employee relationship, it takes cognizance of the matter, to the exclusion of the NLRC. The DOLE would have no jurisdiction only if the employer-employee relationship has already been terminated, or it appears, upon review, that no employer-employee relationship existed in the first place. (People’s Broadcasting Service (Bombo Radyo Phils., Inc.) vs. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, the Regional Director, Dole Region VII, and Jandeleon Juezan, G.R. No. 179652, March 6, 2012, En Banc Resolution).
(Almirante is a former labor arbiter)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 22, 2012.