Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court:
Compensation for unfair dismissal - Legal limits (ceiling in months or calculation method):
Dismissal without an authorized or just cause: Compensation in lieu of reinstatement is not a statutory remedy. However, according to case law (Golden Ace Builders, et.al vs. Jose Talde, May 5, 2010, GR No. 187200), an employee may be given separation pay of one month pay for every year of service in lieu of reinstatement The employee shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and full back wages, inclusive of allowances, and other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time the compensation was not paid up to the time of actual reinstatement (art. 294 LC). In addition, an employee who is dismissed without just cause may also be entitled to damages if the dismissal was done in bad faith (Aurora Land Project Corp. vs NLRC, 266 SCRA 48).
Dismissal without a just or authorized cause (unfair dismissal): reinstatement. Compensation in lieu of reinstatement may be granted to an illegally dismissed employee in lieu of reinstatement (case law, see above).
Note that if a dismissal is for a just or authorized cause but the employer failed to comply with the procedural requirement, the dismissal should be upheld. The National Labour Relations Commission has held that while the procedural infirmity cannot be cured, it should not invalidate the dismissal. However, the employer should be held liable for nominal damages for non-compliance with the procedural requirements of due process. (Agabon et al. v. National Labour Relations Commission et al., G.R. No. 158693, November 17, 2004)
Art. 294 LC: "An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages inclusive of allowance, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement".
Preliminary mandatory conciliation:
Speedy alternative dispute resolution processes and preferential use of voluntary modes in settling labour disputes are key policies enshrined in the Constitution (art. III, sec.16)
Art. 227 of LC (principle of prior resort to amicable settlement): "the Labour Arbiter shall exert all efforts towards the amicable settlement of a labour dispute within his jurisdiction on or before the first hearing. The same rule shall apply to the Commission in the exercise of its original jurisdiction".
Except termination disputes arising from the implementation or interpretation of CBAs which are subject to internal grievance procedures: SEnA (Single-Entry Approach) is also applicable to termination or suspension of employment issues, unfair labour practices, closures, retrenchments, redundancies, temporary lay-offs, overseas Filipino Workers cases. Single Entry Assistance Desks in DoLE offices and attached agencies provide 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation services (sec. 2 of Department Order No. 107-10).
Art. 234(a) of LC and sec. 1 of Republic Act No. 10396: Except as provided in Title VII-A, Book V of this Code, or as may be excepted by the Secretary of Labour and Employment, all issues arising from labour and employment shall be subject to mandatory conciliation-mediation. The labour arbiter or the appropriate DoLE agency or office that has jurisdiction over the disputes shall entertain only endorsed or referred cases by the duly authorized officer (except disputes subject to internal mandatory grievance procedures and voluntary arbitration (Title VII-A, Book V of LC) applicable for parties to a CBA). Art. 234(b) of LC: Any or both parties involved in the dispute may pre-terminate the conciliation-mediation proceedings and request referral or endorsement to the appropriate DoLE agency or office which has jurisdiction over the dispute, or if both parties so agree, refer the unresolved issues to voluntary arbitration.
In-court mediation is also possible when labour disputes are brought to the Court of Appeals for judicial action or review (SC AM No. 04-3-15-SC, 2004).
Competent court(s) / tribunal(s):
Regarding parties to a collective bargaining agreement, all grievances submitted to internal grievance machinery which are not settled within seven days from the date of its submission shall automatically referred to voluntary arbitration prescribed in the CBA (Art. 273). For this purpose, parties to a CBA shall name and designate in advance a voluntary arbitrator or panel of voluntary arbitrators or include in the CBA a procedure for the selection of such voluntary arbitrator or panel of voluntary arbitrators, preferably from the listing of qualified voluntary arbitrators duly accredited by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. See also Art. 275: upon agreement of the parties, the designated voluntary arbitrator or panel of voluntary arbitrators shall also hear and decide all other labour disputes including unfair labour practices. Voluntary arbitration awards, decisions or orders are subject to judicial review upon petition for review filed with the Court of Appeals within 15 calendar days from receipt of such awards, decisions or orders (Rule 43 of the Rules of Civil Procedure)
The Labour Arbiters of the National Labour Relations Commission have original and exclusive jurisdiction over termination disputes (Art. 224 of LC). The National Labour Relations Commission has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by Labour Arbiters (Art. 224(b) of LC). Cases arising from the interpretation or implementation of CBAs and those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies shall be disposed of by the labour arbiter by referring the same to the grievance machinery and voluntary arbitration as may be provided in the said agreements (Art. 224(c)). According to Sale (2015), mostly non-unionized workers resort to compulsory arbitration by labour arbiters.
The DoLE Secretary and Regional Offices (enforcement offices/inspectorates) are charged with monitoring compliance with or enforcement of labour standards, including termination of employment requirements (Art. 128 of LC, sec. 1 of Rule IV of DO No. 131-B, Series of 2016. When deficiencies detected by labour law compliance officers are not corrected, the hearing officer shall conduct mandatory marathon conferences during which parties may reach voluntary settlement, before the issuance of compliance orders (Rules XII and XIII of DO No. 131-B). Cases related to termination of employment requirements include those arising from discrimination [Sale (2015)]
Regarding termination disputes in the public sector whether they arise from grievances, unfair labour practices, the Public Sector Labour Management Council takes appropriate action and has original and exclusive jurisdiction (sec. 16 of Executive Order No. 180).
See above on competent courts/administrative bodies for more details.
Voluntary arbitration for disputes arising from the parties to CBAs (Art.273).
Administrative arbitration by labour arbiters (Art. 224)
Length of procedure:
Voluntary arbitration applicable to the parties to a CBA: Unless the parties agree otherwise, it shall be mandatory for the voluntary arbitrator or panel of voluntary arbitrators to render an award or decision within 20 calendar days from the date of submission of the dispute to voluntary arbitration (Art. 276).
Administrative labour arbitration: Omnibus Implementing Rules, Rule XIV, sec. 8: Cases involving the dismissal of a worker shall be decided by the Labour Arbiter within 20 working days from the date of submission of such cases for decision.