I am thinking of filing a complaint against my employer before the Department of Labor and Employment for illegal dismissal as well as over money claims because of non-payment of my last pay and certain benefits. I just want to know whether formal hearing will proceed immediately after I have filed the complaint.
All complaints filed before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are given due course as long as the matters or issues involved fall within the jurisdiction of the department.
Filing of a complaint, however, does not immediately result in setting it for formal hearing. For instance, concerns and cases that fall within the administrative and quasi-judicial functions of all DOLE offices and attached agencies of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) will have to undergo “SEnA” or the “Single Entry Approach.” This is a 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation procedure during which the parties are given the opportunity to resolve their issues or enter into amicable settlement without having to proceed to a full-blown trial.
Particularly, Section 6 of Department Order No. 107-10, Series of 2010 in relation to the DOLE Rules of Procedure of the Single Entry Approach, provides that all labor-related disputes must undergo the SenA, to wit: (a) termination or suspension of employment issues; (b) claims for any sum of money, regardless of amount; (c) intra-union and inter-union issues, after exhaustion of administrative remedies; (d) unfair labor practice; (e) closures, retrenchments, redundancies, temporary lay-offs; (f) OFW cases; and (g) any other claims arising from employer-employee relationship.
Nevertheless, the following are excluded from the Single Entry Approach: (a) those involving notices of strikes and lockouts, or preventive mediation cases as these cases remain under the authority of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board; (b) issues related to the interpretation or implementation of collective bargaining agreements and those concerning the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies as these must be processed through the Grievance Machinery; and (c) issues concerning violations of mandatory labor permits, licenses and registrations (Section 2, Department Order No. 107-10 in relation to the DOLE Rules of Procedure of the Single Entry Approach).
Thus in your situation, we submit that a formal hearing will not immediately ensue once your complaint is filed before the DOLE. You will first have to undergo the 30-day SEnA since your complaint against your employer involves your allegedly illegal dismissal as well as money claims on account of alleged non-payment by your employer of your last pay and certain benefits.
We wish to emphasize that the SEnA has been strengthened with the passage of Republic Act 10396, which was approved into law on March 14, 2013. This law inserted a new article to our existing Labor Code, that is, Article 288, which provides that all issues arising from labor and employment shall be the subject of mandatory conciliation-mediation, except as provided under Title VII-A, Book V of the Labor Code, as amended, or as may be exempted by the Secretary of Labor and Employment (Section 1, Id.).
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.
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