1993 memorandum elucidating
The Labor Code, on one hand, provides that an employer must provide the employee ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires: ART. Any decision taken by the employer shall be without prejudice to the right of the worker to contest the validity or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint with the regional branch of the National Labor Relations Commission.The burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause shall rest on the employer.The labor arbiter found that the 30-day extension of petitioners suspension and their subsequent dismissal were both illegal.He ordered respondents to pay petitioners their salaries during their 30-day illegal suspension, as well as to reinstate them with backwages and 13th month pay.The labor arbiter and the CA correctly found that respondents failed to comply with the two-notice requirement for terminating employees.Petitioners likewise contended that due process was not observed in the absence of a hearing in which they could have explained their side and refuted the evidence against them. We note a marked difference in the standards of due process to be followed as prescribed in the Labor Code and its implementing rules. x x x (b) Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause and without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code, the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment.Petitioners now seek a reversal of the CA decision.
Article 277(b) of the Labor Code provides that, in cases of termination for a just cause, an employee must be given "ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself." Thus, the opportunity to be heard afforded by law to the employee is qualified by the word "ample" which ordinarily means "considerably more than adequate or sufficient." In this regard, the phrase "ample opportunity to be heard" can be reasonably interpreted as extensive enough to cover actual hearing or conference.
Without undermining the importance of a shipping order or request, we find respondents evidence insufficient to clearly and convincingly establish the facts from which the loss of confidence resulted.
Other than their bare allegations and the fact that such documents came into petitioners hands at some point, respondents should have provided evidence of petitioners functions, the extent of their duties, the procedure in the handling and approval of shipping requests and the fact that no personnel other than petitioners were involved.
The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the decision of the labor arbiter.
It ruled that petitioners were dismissed for just cause, that they were accorded due process and that they were illegally suspended for only 15 days (without stating the reason for the reduction of the period of petitioners illegal suspension).