Arrogant and dumb labor inspector and hearing officer PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 13:50

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

This is not my description of these labor officers but of my worthy brother who engages in the business of construction. He complained and expressed to me yesterday his disgust against these officers who pressured him to pay his complaining workers separation pay, overtime pay, holiday pay, and premium pay for holidays and rest days without giving him the reasonable opportunity to refute and controvert their findings and computations for alleged violations of standard laws and regulations based solely on the baseless and self-serving allegations of the workers.

Accordingly, he will soon file a motion to plead the Department of Labor and Employment, Region IX Office, to refer his case to the National Labor Relations Commission, Regional Arbitration Branch No. 9, for a full hearing and reception of evidentiary matters and, for its eventual resolution, and when things go wrong, to file a graft case against these labor officers with the Ombudsman.

Except for his office employees, my contractor friend only hires or engages project workers in the conduct of his construction business. These are the drivers, masons, carpenters, steel men, and other type of workers as the need arises, to work and complete his government contracted projects as scheduled.

He says that as a labor inspector and a hearing officer, he presumes that they are knowledgeable of the pertinent labor laws and jurisprudence; that the services of PROJECT employees, by the nature of their work, are co-terminus with the completion of the project for which they are hired or whose employments ceases when their services are no longer needed.

Under these premises, these complaining workers are not deemed REGULAR workers who shall be entitled to separation pay and labor standard benefits as these must be buttressed by substantial evidence that they are indeed entitled to such benefits. Separation pay is only awarded to regular workers or employees who were illegally terminated from their jobs or when its payment is mandated by a bargaining agreement or it has become a regular practice for the employer to pay the same.

My worthy brother, however, bewails that these labor officers computed his complaining workers’ separation pay and monetary awards without any basis and iota of evidence. The computed monetary awards were solely based on the baseless and self-serving allegations of the complaining workers. This is patently illegal. In so doing, these labor officers has likewise deprived him of his right to due process for not being given reasonable opportunity to refute and controvert the disputed monetary awards.

The Supreme Court has ruled that overtime pay, holiday pay, night shift differentials, and premium pay for holiday and rest day are “extraordinary monetary claims” and as such, the burden of proof is shifted to the complainants who must prove that he rendered overtime work, or that he worked at night, or that he worked during holidays and rest days. (Cagampan vs. NLRC, 195 SCRA 533; Pigcaulan vs. Security Credit, Inc., et. al., G.R. No. 173648, January 16, 2012).

Following these established jurisprudence, these monetary awards cannot be awarded or granted for failure of complainants to present corroborative proof or evidence that they are indeed entitled to such claims. Thus, their failure to prove their entitlement thereto bars them from receiving the same.

My worthy brother now wonders, do these labor officers very well know that their computed awards are totally baseless and bereft of any legal basis? Do they know that these are contrary to law and jurisprudence? How did they arrive at those computations without any basis?

He now awaits the order of the DOLE 9 in response to his motion to transfer his case to the NLRC for a full blown hearing and the reception of evidence and, for the prompt resolution of his case—a termination case coupled with monetary claims which is within the competence and jurisdiction of the latter’s office.

One important thing that these labor officers must instill in their minds, that while labor laws are enacted and implemented for the protection of the rights and benefits of workers, it does not allow the destruction of the employer, who provides employment and pays workers their wages that sustain the daily needs of the workers and their families. You destroy the employer and you kill the hen that lays the golden egg. They should be cautious and judicious in the conciliation of labor complaints and should not immediately compute the possible amount of monetary awards to the complaining workers as they are simply giving these workers false hopes in receiving large amount of money based on their erroneous and highly questionable computations despite being baseless and bereft of legal basis. Also, they should not immediately pressure and demand an employer to pay their computed amounts to the complaining workers without giving him reasonable opportunity to refute and controvert their claims.

The DOLE Regional Director should check and correct this wrong practice. Labor officers such as these inspector and hearing officer destroy the name and goodwill of her office.