• Prescription determined by date of last written demand for benefits

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My boyfriend was employed as a private company driver. He had family problems, which greatly affected his work. He unintentionally incurred absences, which later resulted in his termination in February 2012. He accepted the termination but he wanted to insist on the payment of his last salary and other monetary benefits. He tried to demand from his former employer, but all his efforts were in vain.

    Can he still legally demand his benefits now? He is contemplating on filing a case, but he is not sure if he can still do it considering that several years have already passed. Your advice will be highly appreciated.

    Dear Triza,
    An employee who has rendered service in favor of his employer, in compliance with the provisions of their employment contract, is entitled to receive the adequate salary or compensation as agreed upon by them. They have the right to demand the same once it becomes due. And if there is unjust refusal on the part of the employer to pay such salary or compensation, the employee concerned may bring the necessary legal actions.

    You mentioned in your letter that your boyfriend was terminated in February 2012 and, while he accepted his termination, he demanded from his former employer to pay him his last salary and such other monetary benefits that may have accrued in his favor. Such demands were not met by his former employer, however. Thus, he considers filing a case against the latter.

    We wish to emphasize that the filing of monetary claims must be done within the three-year prescriptive period provided for under Article 291 of our Labor Code. To be specific, the law states:

    “All money claims arising from employer-employee relations accruing from the effectivity of this code shall be filed within three (3) years from the time the cause of action accrued; otherwise they shall be forever barred. x x x”

    Accordingly, your boyfriend must institute his monetary claims within three (3) years from the time the same has accrued. But the common question is: When do monetary claims start to accrue? As explained by the Supreme Court:

    “x x x The Labor Code has no specific provision on when a claim for illegal dismissal or a monetary claim accrues. Thus, the general law on prescription applies. Article 1150 of the Civil Code states:

    Article 1150. The time for prescription for all kinds of actions, when there is no special provision which ordains otherwise, shall be counted from the day they may be brought. (Emphasis supplied)

    The day the action may be brought is the day a claim starts as a legal possibility. In the present case, January 1, 2000 was the date that respondent Pingol was not allowed to perform his usual and regular job as a maintenance technician. x x x”(PLDT vs. Pingol,G.R. No. 182622, September 8, 2010)

    Accordingly, the three-year period when your boyfriend may file his claims began to run on the date of his termination in February 2012, ending three (3) years thereafter.

    It bears stressing, however, that the running of the three-year prescriptive period may be interrupted by the filing of an action in court, by a written extra-judicial demand, and by a written acknowledgment of the debt by the debtor (Article 1155, Civil Code; PLDT vs. Pingol, Ibid.)

    Thus, if your boyfriend has made written demands after February 2012, this may have taken its toll on the running of the three-year prescriptive period. The counting of the period will be continued from the date of his last written extra-judicial demand. Correspondingly, he may still file his claim before the Department of Labor and Employment if the total period that has lapsed is still within the three-year prescriptive period.

    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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