• Disease a valid cause for employee’s dismissal

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My friend has been going through a personal dilemma. Last year, his wife left him for a foreigner, and that really devastated him because he is a devoted husband. Anyone who knows him would probably say that about him, which is also why we do not understand how his wife did that to him. Anyway, I think his personal problem got in the way of his work, resulting in his termination. He said his employer terminated him because of his disease, which is manifested by his schizophrenic tendencies. I just want to know if this is really possible, that he may be terminated because of a mental illness. I just really feel sorry for him, and want to make sure that what his employer did is in accordance with our laws.
    Harlem105

    Dear Harlem105,
    Employers are given certain latitude under the law to terminate their contracts with their employees as long as there is a just or authorized cause for such termination, and that appropriate notice is given to the concerned employees. Particularly, there must be a first notice informing the latter of the ground for which they are being dismissed and second notice informing them of the final decision as to the dismissal.

    One of the authorized causes for termination mentioned under our laws is the employee’s disease. It is specifically stated under Article 284 of the Labor Code of the Philippines:

    “An employer may terminate the services of an employee who has been found to be suffering from any disease and whose continued employment is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his health as well as to the health of his co-employees: x x x”

    It is essential, however, that there be a certification issued by competent public health authority clearly declaring that the disease of the concerned employee is of such nature or at such a stage that it cannot be cured within six (6) months even with proper medical treatment. This is in consonance with Section 8, Rule I, Book Six of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code. It is also stated under the same provision of the Rules that: “x x x If the disease or ailment can be cured within the period, the employer shall not terminate the employee but shall ask the employee to take a leave of absence. The employer shall reinstate such employee to his former position immediately upon the restoration of his normal health.”

    Applying the foregoing, it may only be said that your friend was validly terminated by his employer if the foregoing tenets were dutifully observed. Even if your friend suffers from mental disease, such may still be a ground for his termination as long as the elements/circumstances mentioned under the law and the Implementing Rules and Regulations are met, and there was adequate notice to him of such termination.

    Corollary, he must be paid by his employer with a separation pay, which under Article 284 of the Labor Code, is equivalent to at least one (1) month salary or to one-half (1/2) month salary for every year of service, whichever is greater, a fraction of at least six (6) months being considered as one (1) whole year.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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