Almirante: Pianist's wage-A A +A
Friday, March 1, 2013
RESPONDENT Hernani S. Realuyo worked as a pianist at the Legend Hotel’s Tanglaw Restaurant owned by petitioner Titanium Corp. from September 1992. He received an initial rate of P400, which was later increased to P750 after each night’s performance, which had been fixed from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for three to six times a week.
On July 9, 1999, the management notified him that as a cost-cutting measure, his services would no longer be required. Realuyo filed a complaint for constructive dismissal and several money claims.
In defense, petitioner argued that whatever remuneration was given to respondent were only his talent fees that were not included in the definition of wage under the Labor Code. Such talent fees were but the consideration for the service contract entered into between them. Is there merit to this defense?
Respondent was paid P400 per three hours of performance from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., three to six nights a week. Such rate of remuneration was later increased to P750 upon the restaurant manager’s recommendation. There is no denying that the remuneration denominated as talent fees was fixed on the basis of the respondent’s talent and skill and the quality of the music he played during the hours of performance each night, taking into account the prevailing rate for similar talents in the entertainment industry.
Respondent’s remuneration, albeit denominated as talent fees, was still considered as included in the term wage in the sense and context of the Labor Code, regardless of how petitioner chose to designate the remuneration.
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Clearly, respondent received compensation for the services he rendered as a pianist in petitioner’s hotel. Petitioner cannot use the service contract to rid itself of the consequences of its employment of respondent. There is no denying that whatever amounts he received for his performance, howsoever designated by petitioner, were his wages.
It is notable that under the Rules Implementing the Labor Code and as held in Tan v. Lagrama, G.R. No. 151228, August 15, 2002, 387 SCRA 393, every employer is required to pay his employees by means of a payroll, which should show in each case, among others, the employee’s rate of pay, deductions made from such pay, and the amounts actually paid to the employee. Yet, petitioner did not present the payroll of its employees to bolster its insistence of respondent not being its employee.
That respondent worked for less than eight hours/day was of no consequence and did not detract from the CA’s finding on the existence of the employer-employee relationship.
In providing that the “normal hours of work of any employee shall not exceed eight hours a day,” Article 83 of the Labor Code only set a maximum of number of hours as “normal hours of work” but did not prohibit work of less than eight hours (Legend Hotel (Manila), et. al. vs. Hernani S. Realuyo, G.R. No. 153511, July 18, 2012).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 02, 2013.