I am employed as a warehouse assistant in a factory somewhere in Metro Manila. I was suspended because of missing products, which I amresponsible to safekeep. I was told that an investigation will be conducted and while the investigation is going on, I will be placed under preventive suspension. How long can they put me on preventive suspension?
Under the law, an employer may put his/her employee under preventive suspension while the latter is the subject of an investigation for an alleged violation or infraction of the employee’s policies or rules. This is to prevent the employee from causing further harm or injury to the employer as well as to the other employees, as the case may be.
The employee shall not receive any pay during the period of suspension, but the same shall not exceed thirty (30) days. Should the employer extend the period of suspension longer than that period, he/she must pay the salary and other benefits to which his/her employee is entitled. This was explicitly explained by the Supreme Court in the case of Federito B. Pido vs. National Labor Relations Commission, Cherubim Security and General Service Inc., and Rosario K. Balais (G.R. No. 169812, February 23, 2007), as follows:
“(I)t is gathered that respondent intended to put petitioner under preventive suspension for an indefinite period of time pending the investigation of the complaint against him. The allowable period of suspension in such a case is not six months but only 30 days, following Sections 8 and 9 of Rule XXIII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code (Implementing Rules), viz:
SEC. 8. Preventive suspension. – The employer may place the worker concerned under preventive suspension if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.
SEC. 9. Period of suspension. – No preventive suspension shall last longer than thirty (30) days. The employer shall thereafter reinstate the worker in his former or in a substantially equivalent position or the employer may extend the period of suspension provided that during the period of extension, he pays the wages and other benefits due to the worker. In such case, the worker shall not be bound to reimburse the amount paid to him during the extension if the employer decides, after completion of the hearing, to dismiss the worker. (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)
As above-quoted Section 9 of the Implementing Rules expressly provides, if the employer chooses to extend the period of suspension, he is required to pay the wages and other benefits due the worker and the worker is not bound to reimburse the amount paid to him during the extended period of suspension even if, after the completion of the hearing or investigation, the employer decides to dismiss him.”
Also, directing an employee to undergo preventive suspension for more than thirty (30) days without being reinstated or being paid his/her salary and other benefits due him/her after the thirty (30)-day period as mentioned above may ripen into constructive dismissal.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com