Moises De Leon v. NLRC and La Tondeña (G.R. No. 70705)

Facts:

Petitioner De Leon was employed by respondent company La Tondeña as maintenance man whose work consisted mainly of painting company building and equipment, and other odd jobs relating to maintenance. After having worked for respondent for more than a year, petitioner requested that he be included in the payroll of regular employees, to which the former responded by dismissing petitioner from his employment. Petitioner having been refused reinstatement filed a complaint before the Labor Arbiter. Petitioner asserts that he is a regular employee performing similar functions as of a regular maintenance and was rehired by respondent company’s labor agency to perform the same tasks. Respondent company meanwhile claims petitioner was a casual worker hired only to paint a certain building in the premises and that his work as painter terminated upon completion of the job. The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of petitioner but was reversed on appeal by the NLRC tribunal.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner De Leon is a regular employee of respondent.

Ruling: YES.

The primary standard, therefore, of determining a regular employment is the reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee in relation to the usual business or trade of the employer. The test is whether the former is usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer.

It is not tenable to argue that the painting and maintenance work of petitioner are not necessary in respondent’s business of manufacturing liquors and wines, just as it cannot be said that only those who are directly involved in the process of producing wines and liquors may be considered as necessary employees. Otherwise, there would have been no need for the regular Maintenance Section of respondent company’s Engineering Department, manned by regular employees whom petitioner often worked with.

The law demands that the nature and entirety of the activities performed by the employee be considered. In the case of petitioner, the painting and maintenance work given him manifest a treatment consistent with a maintenance man and not just a painter, for if his job was truly only to paint a building there would have been no basis for giving him other work assignments in between painting activities.

Furthermore, the petitioner performed his work of painting and maintenance activities during his employment in respondent’s business which lasted for more than one year. Certainly, by this fact alone he is entitled by law to be considered a regular employee. And considering further that weeks after his dismissal, petitioner was rehired by the company through a labor agency and was returned to his post in the Maintenance Section and made to perform the same activities that he used to do, it cannot be denied that as activities as a regular painter and maintenance man still exist.

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