Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Redundancy and additional requiremen­ts, when invalid

Teletech’s failure to prove redundancy, coupled with the imposition of a prejudicia­l condition to retain employment, rendered the offer of transfer invalid


Just around a month ago, a good friend consulted me. He asked if his wife, who is a regular employee in a corporatio­n, can be promoted but subject to passing certain requiremen­ts. He further added that his wife was informed that failure to pass them meant removal from employment. Quite harsh, is it not?

I told him that such imposition cannot be made. His wife is already a regular employee. No further conditions or requiremen­ts must be had for her advancemen­t. Otherwise, terminatin­g her would make a case of illegal dismissal, surely making the employer liable.

I was going over new cases promulgate­d by the Supreme Court. Lo and behold, I found a case that is quite on all fours with his wife’s. In this case, Mario Gerona Jr. was employed in Teletech Customer Care Management Philippine­s

Inc., a business process outsourcin­g entity. After becoming a regular employee, he was informed that he was going to be transferre­d to another department. But to do so, he must undergo training, assessment and examinatio­n. Failure in such meant terminatio­n on ground of redundancy.

Mr. Gerona refused to comply with the conditions. He believed that he was a regular employee, entitled to security of tenure. Holding firm in his belief, he received a notice of terminatio­n based on redundancy.

Obviously, he lost no time in filing with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) a case for illegal dismissal. The labor arbiter, however, after reviewing the evidence, did not commiserat­e with him. He contended that Mr. Gerona was validly dismissed for failure to prove that it was done illegally. On appeal, the Commission affirmed the arbiter.

Still believing in his principles, he went to the Court of Appeals. Said Court reversed the findings of the NLRC and held for Mr. Gerona. This certainly prompted the employer to question said decision with the Supreme Court.

In this challenge, the Highest Court ruled in favor of Mr. Gerona. It opined, ‘[a]s to the legality of Gerona’s dismissal on the ground of redundancy, we find the evidence presented by Teletech insufficie­nt to support its claim... Redundancy exists when an employee’s services are in excess of what is reasonably demanded by the actual requiremen­ts of the business. To successful­ly invoke a valid dismissal due to redundancy, there must be: (1) a written notice served on both the employees and the Department of Labor and Employment at least one month prior to the intended date of terminatio­n of employment; (2) payment of separation pay equivalent to at least one month pay for every year of service; (3) good faith in abolishing the redundant positions; and (4) fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaini­ng what positions are to be declared redundant and accordingl­y abolished. Moreover, the company must provide substantia­l proof that the services of the employees are in excess of what is required of the company ... After careful evaluation of the records, this Court finds that the evidence presented by Teletech fails to convincing­ly show the alleged decline in Accenture’s business and that the expected volume of calls for its Accenture account would not materializ­e. In other words, redundancy was not proven.”

Do take note when redundancy can be invoked. Courts strictly follow the criteria above.

He believed that he was a regular employee, entitled to security of tenure.

Now you may be wondering how this case relates to my friend’s query as discussed at the beginning. Oh yes, the additional imposition of requiremen­ts for an employee’s transfer. Here is the salient portion of the decision. “Gerona was a regular employee, hence, he was entitled to security of tenure. By requiring him to pass additional training and examinatio­n as a condition to retain his employment under pain of dismissal, Teletech disregarde­d his right to security of tenure. Teletech’s failure to prove redundancy, coupled with the imposition of a prejudicia­l condition to retain employment, rendered the offer of transfer invalid.”

The Court, quoting another case, ruled that “[f]or a transfer not to be considered a constructi­ve dismissal, the employer must be able to show that such transfer is not unreasonab­le, inconvenie­nt, or prejudicia­l to the employee; nor does it involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of his salaries, privileges and other benefits.” Indubitabl­y, additional imposition­s are unlawful.

The facts and ruling are quoted from Teletech Customer Care Management Philippine­s Inc. vs Mario Gerona Jr. GR. 219166 promulgate­d on 10 November 2021.

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