Almirante: Recomputation of award

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, February 28, 2014


PETITIONER Dario Nacar filed a complaint for constructive dismissal against respondents Gallery Frames (GF) and/or Felipe Bordey, Jr. On Oct. 15, 1998, the labor arbiter rendered a decision finding him dismissed from employment without a valid or just cause. He was awarded backwages and separation pay in lieu of reinstatement in the amount of P158,919.92.

Petitioner prevailed in his case throughout the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), the Court of Appeals (CA), and the Supreme Court. During the execution stage, he filed a Motion for Correct Computation, praying that his backwages be computed from the date of his dismissal on Jan. 24, 1997 up to the finality of the Resolution of the Supreme Court on May 27, 2002. Does his motion find merit?

Supreme Court En Banc ruling: Yes.

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We see no error in the CA decision confirming that a recomputation is necessary as it essentially considered the labor arbiter’s original decision in accordance with its basic component parts as we discussed above. To reiterate, the first part contains the finding of illegality and its monetary consequences; the second part is the computation of the awards or monetary consequences of the illegal dismissal, computed as of the time of the labor arbiter’s original decision.

Consequently, from the above disquisitions, under the terms of the decision which is sought to be executed by the petitioner, no essential change is made by a recomputation as this step is a necessary consequence that flows from the nature of the illegality of dismissal declared by the Labor Arbiter in that decision.

A recomputation (or an original computation, if no previous computation has been made) is a part of the law – specifically, Article 279 of the Labor Code and the established jurisprudence on this provision – that is read into the decision. By the nature of an illegal dismissal case, the reliefs continue to add up until full satisfaction, as expressed under Article 279 of the Labor Code. The recomputation of the consequences of illegal dismissal upon execution of the decision does not constitute an alteration or amendment of the final decision being implemented. The illegal dismissal ruling stands; only the computation of monetary consequences of this dismissal is affected, and this is not a violation of the principle of immutability of final judgments.

That the amount respondents shall now pay has greatly increased is a consequence that it cannot avoid as it is the risk that it ran when it continued to seek recourses against the Labor Arbiter’s decision. Article 279 provides for the consequences of illegal dismissal in no uncertain terms, qualified only by jurisprudence in its interpretation of when separation pay in lieu of reinstatement is allowed. When that happens, the finality of the illegal dismissal decision becomes the reckoning point instead of the reinstatement that the law decrees. In allowing separation pay, the final decision effectively declares that the employment relationship ended so that separation pay and back wages are to be computed up to that point (Dario Nacar vs. Gallery Frames and/or Felipe Bordey, Jr., G.R. No. 189871, Aug. 13, 2013).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 01, 2014.

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