Almirante: Probationary employment

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ON FEB. 12, 2005, respondent Pearlie Ann F. Alcaraz signed an employment contract with petitioner Abbott Laboratories, Philippines, which stated, inter alia, that she was to be placed on probation for six months, from Feb. 15, 2005 to Aug. 14, 2005. On May 23, 2005, the respondent received a letter from petitioners stating that her services had been terminated effective May 19, 2005, because she failed to meet the regularization standards for the position of regulatory affairs manager. The respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and damages against petitioner Abbott and its officers. She contended that she should have already been considered as a regular employee because the petitioners had failed to inform her of the reasonable standards for her regularization upon her engagement as required under Article 295 of the Labor Code. Does this find merit?

Ruling: No.

Basic knowledge and common sense dictate that the adequate performance of one’s duties is, by and of itself, an inherent and implied standard for a probationary employee to be regularized; such is a regularization standard that need not be literally spelled out or mapped into technical indicators in every case. In this regard, it must be observed that the assessment of adequate duty performance is in the nature of a management prerogative, which when reasonably exercised—as Abbott did in this case—should be respected.

The Supreme Court ruled that Alcaraz’s status as a probationary employee and her consequent dismissal must stand. Consequently, in holding that Alcaraz was illegally dismissed due to her status as a regular and not a probationary employee, the court finds that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) committed a grave abuse of discretion. The NLRC based its decision on the premise that Alcaraz’s receipt of her job description and Abbott’s Code of Conduct and Performance Modules was not equivalent to being actually informed of the performance standards upon which she should have been evaluated on. It, however, overlooked the legal implication of the other attendant circumstances as detailed herein, which should have warranted a contrary finding that Alcaraz was indeed a probationary and not a regular employee—more particularly the fact that she was well aware of her duties and responsibilities and that her failure to adequately perform would lead to her non-regularization. (Abbott Laboratories Philippines, et. al. vs. Perlie Ann Alcaraz, G.R. No. 192571, July 23, 2013).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2013.


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