Francisco v. NLRC (G.R. No. 170087)

Facts:

Petitioner Angelina Francisco was hired by respondent Kasei Corporation during its incorporation stage as Accountant and Corporate Secretary and later as Liaison Officer. Subsequently she was also designated Acting Manager until replaced, but was assured by the company that she was still connected as Technical Consultant. Thereafter, Kasei Corporation reduced petitioner’s salary until it was later withheld despite repeated follow-ups. Petitioner once again asked for her salary but was informed that she is no longer connected with the company. Petitioner thus filed an action for constructive dismissal before the Labor Arbiter. Respondent Kasei Corporation averred that petitioner is not their employee as she performed her work at her own discretion without their control and supervision. Both the Labor Arbiter and NLRC tribunal found for petitioner. CA reversed the decision.

Issue:

Whether or not there was employer-employee relationship between the parties.

Ruling: YES.

In certain cases the control test is not sufficient to give a complete picture of the relationship between the parties, owing to the complexity of such a relationship where several positions have been held by the worker. The better approach would therefore be to adopt a two-tiered test involving: (1) the putative employer’s power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the work is to be accomplished; and (2) the underlying economic realities of the activity or relationship.

By applying the control test, there is no doubt that petitioner is an employee of Kasei Corporation because she was under the direct control and supervision of Seiji Kamura, the corporation’s Technical Consultant. She reported for work regularly and served in various capacities as Accountant, Liaison Officer, Technical Consultant, Acting Manager and Corporate Secretary, with substantially the same job functions, that is, rendering accounting and tax services to the company and performing functions necessary and desirable for the proper operation of the corporation such as securing business permits and other licenses over an indefinite period of engagement.

Under the broader economic reality test, the petitioner can likewise be said to be an employee of respondent corporation because she had served the company for six years before her dismissal, receiving check vouchers indicating her salaries/wages, benefits, 13th month pay, bonuses and allowances, as well as deductions and Social Security contributions. Petitioner’s membership in the SSS as manifested by a copy of the SSS specimen signature card which was signed by the President of Kasei Corporation and the inclusion of her name in the on-line inquiry system of the SSS evinces the existence of an employer-employee relationship between petitioner and respondent corporation. It is therefore apparent that petitioner is economically dependent on respondent corporation for her continued employment in the latter’s line of business.

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