Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils. v. Climaco (G.R. No. 146881)


Respondent Dr. Climaco is a medical doctor who was hired by petitioner Coca-Cola by virtue of a Retainer Agreement. Despite the non-renewal of the agreement, respondent continued to perform his functions as company doctor. He inquired from petitioner if it was agreeable recognizing him as a regular employee but the management refused to do so. This prompted respondent to file a complaint seeking recognition as a regular employee. While the case was pending, respondent received a letter from petitioner concluding their retainer agreement which then prompted him to file a complaint for illegal dismissal. The Labor Arbiters in the 2 complaints both found for petitioner finding no employer-employee relationship existed between the parties. NLRC tribunal affirmed. CA reversed the decision.


Whether or not employer-employee relationship exists between the parties.

Ruling: NO.

The Court, in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship, has invariably adhered to the four-fold test: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the power to control the employee’s conduct, or the so-called “control test,” considered to be the most important element.

The Court agrees with the finding of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC that the circumstances of this case show that no employer-employee relationship exists between the parties. Petitioner company lacked the power of control over the performance by respondent of his duties. The Comprehensive Medical Plan which contains the respondent‘s objectives, duties and obligations, does not tell respondent “how to conduct his physical examination, how to immunize, or how to diagnose and treat his patients, employees of petitioner company, in each case.” It provided guidelines merely to ensure that the end result was achieved, but did not control the means and methods by which respondent performed his assigned tasks.

The Court finds that the schedule of work and the requirement to be on call for emergency cases do not amount to such control, but are necessary incidents to the Retainership Agreement. The provision that respondent was on call during emergency cases did not make him a regular employee.

The Court also notes that the Retainership Agreement granted to both parties the power to terminate their relationship upon giving a 30-day notice. Hence, petitioner company did not wield the sole power of dismissal or termination.


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