Em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tion­ship

The power of an em­ployer to con­trol the work of the em­ployee is con­sid­ered the most sig­nif­i­cant de­ter­mi­nant of the ex­is­tence of an em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tion­ship.

Sun.Star Cebu - - BUSINESS - DOMINADOR ALMIRANTE da_almi­[email protected]­hoo.com

Pe­ti­tioner Mars­man and Com­pany Inc. (Mars­man), en­gaged in the busi­ness of dis­tri­bu­tion and sale of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and con­sumer prod­ucts, em­ployed re­spon­dent Rodil C. Sta. Rita as a ware­house man.

It pur­chased Metro Drug Dis­tri­bu­tion Inc. now, Con­sumer Prod­ucts Dis­tri­bu­tion Ser­vices Inc. (CPDSI). The em­ploy­ees of the two cor­po­ra­tions were in­te­grated through a mem­o­ran­dum of agree­ment ef­fec­tive July 1, 1996 un­der the Metro Drug le­gal en­tity. Mars­man’s func­tions were lim­ited to those of the hold­ing com­pany and CPDSI as the main op­er­at­ing com­pany.

The ser­vices of Sta. Rita were ter­mi­nated by CPDSI on Feb. 28, 2000 due to re­dun­dancy. Ag­grieved, Sta. Rita filed a com­plaint against Mars­man for il­le­gal dis­missal, dam­ages and at­tor­ney’s fees.

Mars­man in­voked the de­fense that the la­bor ar­biter had no ju­ris­dic­tion over the com­plaint be­cause it was not any­more the em­ployer of Sta. Rita but CPDSI.

Is this de­fense mer­i­to­ri­ous?

Rul­ing: Yes.

To prove the el­e­ment on the pay­ment of wages, Sta. Rita sub­mit­ted forms for leave ap­pli­ca­tion, with ei­ther Mars­man’s logo or CPDSI’s logo.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the ear­lier leave forms bore Mars­man’s logo but the lat­est leave ap­pli­ca­tion of Sta. Rita al­ready had CPDSI’s logo. In any event, the forms for leave ap­pli­ca­tion did not suf­fi­ciently es­tab­lish that Mars­man paid Sta. Rita’s wages. Sta. Rita could have pre­sented pay slips, salary vouch­ers, pay­rolls, cer­tifi­cates of with­hold­ing tax on com­pen­sa­tion in­come or tes­ti­monies of his wit­nesses.

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As to the power of dis­missal, the let­ter dated Jan. 14, 2000 clearly in­di­cated that CPDSI, and not Mars­man, ter­mi­nated Sta. Rita’s ser­vices by rea­son of re­dun­dancy.

Fi­nally, Sta. Rita failed to prove that Mars­man had the power of con­trol over his em­ploy­ment at the time of his dis­missal.

The power of an em­ployer to con­trol the work of the em­ployee is con­sid­ered the most sig­nif­i­cant de­ter­mi­nant of the ex­is­tence of an em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tion­ship. Con­trol, in such re­la­tion­ships ad­dresses the de­tails of day to day work like as­sign­ing the par­tic­u­lar task that has to be done, mon­i­tor­ing the way tasks are done and their re­sults, and de­ter­min­ing the time dur­ing which the em­ployee must re­port for work or ac­com­plish his or her as­signed task.

The court, like­wise, takes no­tice of the com­pany IDs at­tached in Sta. Rita’s plead­ing. The “old” ID bore Mars­man’s logo while the “new” ID car­ried Metro Drug’s logo.

The Court has held that in a busi­ness es­tab­lish­ment, an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card is usu­ally pro­vided not only as a se­cu­rity mea­sure but mainly to iden­tify the holder thereof as a bona fide em­ployee of the firm that is­sues it. Thus the “new” ID con­firmed that Sta. Rita was an em­ployee of Metro Drug, which, to re­it­er­ate, later changed its name to CPDSI.

Hav­ing es­tab­lished that an em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tion­ship did not ex­ist be­tween Mars­man and Sta. Rita at the time of his dis­missal, Sta. Rita’s orig­i­nal com­plaint must be dis­missed for want of ju­ris­dic­tion on the part of the la­bor ar­biter to take cog­nizance of the case.

For this rea­son, there is no need for the court to pass upon the other is­sues raised. (Mars­man and Com­pany, Inc. vs. Rodil C. Sta. Rita, G.R. No. 194765, April 23, 2018).

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