Servidad vs. NLRC

Posted: May 1, 2015 in case digests, labor relations
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Servidad v. NLRC

1998 March 18, GR No 128682


Facts: Servidad was employed on 9 May 1994 by respondent INNODATA as Data Control Clerk, under a contract of employment. Section 2 of such contract states: “This Contract shall be effective for a period of one (1) year commencing on 10 May1994 until 10 May 1995 unless sooner terminated pursuant to the provisions hereof.”

Petitioner was a contractual employee for six months or from the period of May 10, 1994 to November 10, 1994 during which, the employer can terminate with due notice. The contract also states that should the employee continue his employment beyond the 6-month period, he shall become a regular employee upon demonstration of sufficient skill. On November 9, 1995 or one day before his contractual terms ends, he was made to sign a three-month probationary employment and later, an extended three-month employment good until 9 May 1995.Petitioner was terminated on May 9, 1995 and filed an illegal dismissal complaint before the Labor Arbiter.

The Labor Arbiter found the respondent INNODATA guilty of the charge and was ordered to pay backwages and reinstatement of petitioner. On appeal thereto by INNODATA, the NLRC reversed the decision declaring that the contract between petitioner and private complainant was for a fixed term and the dismissal, at the end of one year, was valid.

Issue: WON the contract entered into by the petitioner and respondent is valid and enforceable.

Held: NO.

The NLRC found that the contract in question is for a fixed term. The said contract provides for two periods. The first period was for six months terminable at the option of   private respondent, while the second period was also for six months but probationary in character. In both cases, the private respondent did not specify the criteria for the termination or retention of the services of petitioner. It is violative of the right of the employee against unwarranted dismissal. By the provisions of the very contract itself, petitioner has become a regular employee of private respondent.

As to the private respondent statement that the one-year period stipulated in subject contract was to enable petitioner to acquire the skill necessary for the job. In effect, what respondent employer theorized upon is that the one-year term of employment is probationary. If the nature of the job did actually necessitate at least one year for the employee to acquire the requisite training and experience, the same could not be a valid probationary employment as it falls short of the requirement of Article 281[10] of the Labor Code. It was not brought to light that the petitioner was duly informed at the start of his employment, of the reasonable standards under which he could qualify as a regular employee.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, the questioned decision of NLRC is SET ASIDE, and the decision of the Labor Arbiter, dated August 20, 1996, in NLRC-NCR-00-055-03471-95 REINSTATED, with the modification that the award of backwages be computed from the time of the dismissal of petitioner to his actual or payroll reinstatement.  Costs against the private respondent.



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