ON Nov. 21, 2006, respondents Maximo C. Mamaril and 15 others filed a complaint against petitioner Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (Lepanto) with a claim for payment of overtime pay, among others.
The Court of Appeals (CA) sustained the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) awarding respondents overtime pay. The CA noted that both lawyer Weldy Manlong, the administrative service group manager of petitioner, and Edgar K. Langeg, the assistant security superintendent of the security and communications services department, hinted in their respective affidavits that respondents were ordered to render overtime work and work during the holiday and their rest day. They pointed out that some of these security guards remained at their post beyond the regular eight working hours to keep an eye on the strikers. Edgar Langeg specifically stated that the overtime work that the security guards rendered during the duration of the strike was approved by the administrative group manager and resident manager of petitioner.
Petitioner Lepanto contested with the Supreme Court the award of overtime pay.
Can the CA decision be sustained?
In Damasco v. NLRC, 400 Phil. 568, 586 (2000), we held that an employer’s formal admission that an employee worked beyond eight hours should entitle the employee to overtime compensation.
In this case, such admissions, that respondents rendered overtime work and work during their holiday and rest days on the period specified therein, can be gleaned from the affidavits executed by Lepanto’s managers, Weldy Manlong, and Edgar Langeg. Thus, respondents are clearly entitled to these benefits.
This Court has repeatedly ruled that any doubt arising from the evaluation of evidence as between the employer and the employee must be resolved in favor of the latter. As an employer, it is incumbent upon Lepanto to prove payment.
In G & M (Phils.) Inc. v. Cruz, 496 Phil. 119, 124-125 (2005), we held that the burden of proving payment of monetary claims rests on the employer since the pertinent personnel files, payrolls, records, remittances and other similar documents—which will show that overtime, differentials, service incentive leave, and other claims of workers have been paid—are not in the possession of the worker but in the custody and absolute control of the employer. Thus, the burden of showing with legal certainty that the obligation has been discharged with payment falls on the debtor, in accordance with the rule that one who pleads payment has the burden of proving it.
In this case, Lepanto failed to discharge such burden of proof. Lepanto submitted daily time sheets showing that respondents rendered eight-hour work days, signed by respondents and countersigned by a Col. Doromal as the department head. However, as found by the CA in its decision dated 21 October 2015:
Then again the daily time sheets presented by petitioner are not substantial proof that private respondents did not render overtime work. It can be plainly observed from these daily time sheets that the number of hours worked by private respondents were uniform and were written by the same hand. For this reason, these daily time sheets should be taken with a grain of salt xx x.
Petitioner, nonetheless, insists that it paid private respondents’ overtime pay and holiday pay. Hence, petitioner should have at least presented copies of its payroll or copies of the pay slips of respondents to show payment of these benefits.
However, it failed to do so. Due to such failure of the petitioner, there arises a presumption that such evidence, if presented, would be prejudicial to it. Likewise, petitioner could be deemed to have waived its defense and admitted the allegations of the private respondents. (Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company vs. Maximo C. Mamaril, et.al., G.R. No. 225725, January 16, 2019).