Dismissal for breach of trust

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I work for a private company in Taguig. May I know how an employee may be dismissed based on lack of trust and confidence?

Dear Miles,
Article 279 of the Labor Code mandates that the employers shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just and authorized case and upon the proper observance of the procedural requirements. Article 282 of the Labor Code has laid down the following just grounds for a dismissal to be valid: (a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative; (b) gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representatives; (d) commission of a crime or an offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and (e) other causes analogous to the foregoing.

As mentioned above, willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed to him by the employer is one of the just causes to terminate employment. However, this ground of lack of trust and confidence can only dismiss an employee who occupies a position of confidence. By this, he must be invested with confidence on delicate matters, such as custody, handling or care and protection of the property and assets of the employer (Panday v. NLRC, G.R. No. 67664, 20 May 1992).

The dismissal of an employee for lack of trust and confidence must be based on substantial evidence and not on the employer’s whims or caprices or suspicions; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. Loss of confidence must not be indiscriminately used as a shield by the employer against a claim that the dismissal of an employee was arbitrary. And, in order to constitute a just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be work-related and shows that the employee concerned is unfit to continue working for the employer. In addition, loss of confidence as a just cause for termination of employment is premised on the fact that the employee concerned holds a position of responsibility, trust and confidence or that the employee concerned is entrusted with confidence with respect to delicate matters such as the handling or care and protection of the property and assets of the employer (Qurico Lopez v. Alturas Group of Companies, G.R. No. 191008, April 11, 2011).

Of course, the employer in dismissing his employee must comply with the procedural requirement before termination is effected. The employer is bound to furnish the employee concerned with two written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected. One is the notice apprising the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which dismissal is sought and this may loosely be considered as the proper charge. The other is the notice informing the employee of the management’s decision to sever his employment. This decision, however, must come only after the employee is given a reasonable period from receipt of the first notice within which to answer the charge, thereby giving him ample opportunity to be heard and defend himself with the assistance of his representative should he so desire (Errector Advertising Sign Group, Inc. And Arch Jimmy C. Amoroto vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 167218, July 2, 2010).

We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated 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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