ULTRA VILLA FOOD HAUS A/O ROSIE TIO v GENISTON, NLRC
This special civil action for certiorari arises from an illegal dismissal complaint filed by private respondent Geniston. He claims to have been an “all-around worker” of Ultra Villa Food Haus Restaurant. He was employed from March 1, 1989 until May 13, 1992. As Geniston served acted as NUCD Poll Watcher in the 1992 elections, he did not report for work on May 11-12, 1992. He alleged that his employer told his mother that he was dismissed from work and his pleas for reinstatement failed.
Petitioner Tio maintains that Geniston was her personal driver and not an employee of Ultra Villa. His responsibility was to drive her to and from her Office. Although May 12, 1992 was a holiday, she asked him to report for work, but was told that he was doing election duties. Hence she had to hire a substitute driver, as Respondent returned to work a week after and only to collect his salary.
The Labor Arbiter ruled that Geniston was Petitioner’s personal driver and therefore not entitled to OT, premium pay, SIL pay and 13th month pay. He was also deemed not entitled to salary differentials or separation pay. However, Petitioner was ordered to indemnify private Respondent the amount of P1,000.00 for failure of employer to observe procedural due process.
On appeal, the NLRC ordered petitioner to reinstate Geniston and pay backwages, OT,
The Supreme Court found Geniston was the personal driver of petitioner, not of Ultra Villa Food Haus, as shown by the submitted evidence and admissions of the respondent that he was petitioner’s personal driver. The criterion of househelper under Art. 141 have been met: “ Domestic or household service shall mean services in the employers home which is usually necessary or desirable for the maintenance and enjoyment therefore and includes ministering to the personal comfort and convenience of the members of the employers’ household, including services of family drivers.” Book III, Title 1 of the Labor Code and Article 82, expressly excludes domestic helpers from its coverage, and as such, petitioner is not required to grant OT, holiday pay, premium pay and SIL. While PD851 excludes househelpers from the coverage of 13th month pay, petitioner was required to pay such considering that it has been its practice to give its employees 13th Month Pay.
The Court found, however, that respondent did not abandon his job, as the two requisites ( failure to report to work without valid reason, and a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship) were not met. Petitioner failed to prove abandonment. It is quite unbelievable that private respondent would leave a stable and relatively well-paying job as petitioner’s family driver to work as an election worker… the functions of which are seasonal and temporary in nature. He was unjustly dismissed from work, and is entitled to indemnity as provided for under Art. 149 of the Labor Code. “…. compensation already earned plus that for fifteen days by way of indemnity.” Further, because of failure to comply with die process in dismissing private respondent, petitioner was also ordered to pay an additional indemnity of P 1,000.00