I am working in a multinational company that has several offices in the Philippines. I am currently assigned in the Makati office. I was informed that the company is planning to transfer me to one of its provincial offices. Can the company legally pursue its plan even if I refuse to be transferred?
Dear Mr. Cruz,
The State gives employers reasonable leeway to direct the affairs of their business and to make business decisions according to their own independent judgment, which the courts will generally not interfere with unless the same would constitute an infraction of the law.
This right of employers to manage their business is referred to as management prerogative. It covers the right to regulate all aspects of employment, including the freedom to prescribe work assignments, working methods, processes to be followed, regulation regarding transfer of employees, supervision of their work, lay-off and discipline, and dismissal and recall of work (SHS Perforated Materials, Inc. vs. Diaz, G.R. No. 185814, October 13, 2010). In numerous cases, the Supreme Court upheld the right of an employer to transfer an employee from one depart-ment or office to another on the basis of an employer’s man-agement prerogative.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court emphasize that there are safeguards instituted to balance the scale of justice and protect employees from abusive employers.
First, the law requires that the transfer must not be unreasonable, inconvenient or prejudicial to the employees, and would not result to demotion in rank, salary or other benefits (Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. vs. Del Villar, G.R. No. 163091, January 30, 2009). In addition, the decision to transfer an employee must neither be due to discrimination, nor tainted by bad faith (Endico vs. Quantum Foods Distribution Center, G.R. No. 161615, January 30, 2009). If these requirements are not present, the transfer will be considered illegal.
Second, the employer has the burden of proving the legality of his act or decision to transfer the employee. This means that if an employee complains, the employer is obligated to prove that the transfer does not violate the conditions set by law. If he/she fails to do so, then the transfer will be presumed illegal.
Applying the foregoing to your case, it is necessary to determine whether the decision to transfer you to a provincial office complies with the requirements mentioned above. If it does not comply with the requirements, you may file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission. In such a case, your employer is duty bound to prove the legality of its decision to transfer you.
We hope that the foregoing sufficiently answered your query. Please bear in mind that our opinion is based on facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary should factual circumstances change.