Getting Fired Or Getting Laid Off? Know Your Rights As An Employee
Did you recently lose your job or are you currently thinking of leaving your current employment?
Either way, there are certain rules you should follow to make sure that you are doing it right. As an employee, you owe it to yourself to know your rights according to the law. Because should any employment disputes arise, you’re better off knowing where you stand and what you’re entitled to.
Types of employment termination
Whether you call it retrenchment, downsizing, or simply getting fired, termination of an employment contract falls under these three categories.
1. Termination by the employer
From the name itself, it implies that the working contract of an employee is proactively terminated by the employer. Despite the fact that employers can end an employee’s work contract if they wanted, their decision must abide by the labor laws of the Philippines.
When is it justified for an employer to terminate an employee?
According to Article 282 of the Philippines Labor Code, an employer must have either a just cause or an authorized reason for ending the employment of his or her employee.
A just cause according to the law can be any of the following:
- serious misconduct or willful disobedience
- gross and habitual neglect of duty
- fraud or deliberate breach of trust
- commission of a crime or offense
- other similar reasons
Simply put, anything concerning behavioral or ethical misconduct can be considered as a just cause.
On the other hand, the other valid excuse for termination of an employee are authorized causes. The circumstances that fall under this category are the following:
- installation of labor-saving devices
- reduction of costs to prevent losses
- the closing or cessation of operation
In a nutshell, authorized reasons or causes are rooted in a business’s operation capacity or lack thereof.
According to Article 284 of the Labor Code, employers are entitled to terminate employees who are unable to perform his or her responsibilities for more than six months due to health issues.
2. Voluntary resignation by the employee
The next category of termination of employment is the resignation of an employee.
The Labor Code of the Philippines allows employees in the country to quit or resign from their job whether or not they have a just cause.
Formal resignation process
For employees who resign from a company without any just cause, the following protocols must be adhered to according to the law:
- Submit a formal resignation letter with a one-month notice.
- Render for 1 month before formally terminating work from the company. This will also provide the company with enough time to find a replacement for the vacated position.
- Deliver or accomplish pending work or handover the unfinished work to the employer.
By law, if an employee fails to submit a 1-month notice and render his final service for that period, the employer can charge them for any concurrent damages. Employers can even sanction employees for failing to deliver or fulfill their due responsibilities due to an employee’s untimely or immediate resignation.
When can an employee be allowed to resign immediately?
Certain conditions, however, allow an employee to quit his or her job immediately without having to submit a formal resignation letter and abiding by the process. According to the law, employees can do so under the following circumstances:
- a grave insult to the honor and person of the employee
- inhuman and unbearable treatment by the employer
- A crime committed against the person of the employee or any immediate members of the employee’s family
- other similar causes
Are employees still entitled to a separation pay?
Employers will not be obliged to provide a separation pay compensation to the employee should they leave voluntarily. The separation pay only applies when the job loss is due to reasons that aren’t initiated by the employee.
A very timely example is the recent recession and closing down of businesses due to the pandemic.
When are employees still entitled to a separation pay?
There are circumstances when a voluntary resignation still entitles an employee to separation pay, but they’re only limited to these two conditions:
- when the employment contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides a separation payment
- when the company’s practice or policy authorizes it.
3. Termination of a probationary employee
By law, a probationary period of an employee can only last up to six months. If the employee fails to meet the company standards or expectations, the employer is entitled to terminate the employee’s contract.
Should the employee’s contract continue even after the 6-month probationary period and with the absence of any formal notification or update from the employer, he or she, by law, will automatically be converted to a regular employee
Types of the employee termination process
Resignation (initiated by the employee) and termination (initiated by the employer) are two separate processes. Here is the clear cut process to initiate both, as mandated by law:
- Submit a formal resignation letter with a one-month notice.
- Render for 1 month before formally terminating work from the company. This will also provide the company with enough time to find a replacement for the vacated position
- Deliver or accomplish pending work or handover the unfinished work to the employer
Termination with just cause
- Written notice of dismissal (explaining the reason for termination)
- Hearing (to hear the employee’s side and give him or her the chance to disapprove the charges)
- Notice of decision (a letter explaining the decision with justification)
Termination with authorized cause
- Written notice of dismissal (explaining the reason for termination; should be given 30 days prior to effectivity)
- Copy of the notice (submit a copy to the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment)
What happens when an employee is unfairly dismissed?
While employers are also entitled to their own set of benefits and laws working towards their favor, the labor laws in the Philippines also see to it that employees receive their due compensation and proper treatment from their employers.
Should employers fail to demonstrate fair and just treatment to their employees by not following the legal process of terminating their employees or in handling their resignation, certain sanctions will be imposed on the employer.
According to Article 279 of the Philippines’ Labor Code, if an employer terminates an employee without a just cause, they are entitled to any of the following:
- Reinstatement without loss of seniority rights
- Separation pay of one month pay for every year of service
- Full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits of their monetary equivalent from the time compensation was withheld up to the time of reinstatement.