I won in a labor case I filed against my employer last month and the decision of the labor arbiter said that I must be “reinstated” to my former position in the company. My employer appealed the decision to a higher court. I went to them and presented myself so that I will be reinstated to my work. My employer said that since the case was on appeal, I cannot have the appealed decision executed yet. Is my employer correct?
Your employer is not correct. The Supreme Court in the case of Manila Doctors College and Teresita Turla vs. Emmanuel Olones (G.R. No. 225044, 3 October 2016), through Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, clarified the nature of the decision for reinstatement at the labor arbiter (LA) level:
The employee shall either be admitted back to work under the same terms and conditions prevailing prior to his dismissal or separation or, at the option of the employer, merely reinstated in the payroll. The posting of a bond by the employer shall not stay the execution for reinstatement xxx.” (Emphasis supplied)
For emphasis, it is further stated in the case:
Verily, the employer is duty-bound to reinstate the employee, failing which, the employer is liable instead to pay the dismissed employee’s salary. In the event, however, that the LA’s decision is reversed by a higher tribunal, the employer’s duty to reinstate the dismissed employee is effectively terminated. This means that an employer is no longer obliged to keep the employee in the actual service or in the payroll. The employee, in sum, is not required to return the wages that he had received prior to the reversal of the LA’s decision. Notwithstanding the reversal of the finding of illegal dismissal, an employer, who, despite the LA’s order of reinstatement, did not reinstate the employee during the pendency of the appeal up to the reversal by a higher tribunal may still be held liable for the accrued wages of the employee, i.e., the unpaid salary accruing up to the time of the reversal. (Emphasis supplied)
As a reminder, however, it is stated in the same case:
By way of exception, an employee may be barred from collecting the accrued wages if shown that the delay in enforcing the reinstatement pending appeal was without fault on the part of the employer.
Thus, in your situation, your employer has the duty to reinstate you in the last position you held in the company or its equivalent, or reinstate you in the payroll so that you will be able to receive your regular wage, immediately upon his receipt of the decision rendered by the labor arbiter. The nature of the decision is immediately executory and is not stopped by your employer’s filing of his appeal. Since he is bound to do this, you can seek the court’s aid in enforcing the decision by filing a petition or complaint for contempt.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.