Backwages Computation of Seasonal Workers in Sugarcane Industry Should be Based on the Presumed Six-Month Work Per Year in the Absence of Evidence to the ContraryAtty Elvin
Backwages should be awarded to an employee who were illegally dismissed from service.
Under Art. 294 of the Labor Code, as amended an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement. (Get a copy of Re-numbered Labor Code here by Atty. Villanueva)
The award of backwages is normally computed at one month salary of the employee. For instance, the basic salary of an employee who was illegally dismissed and who subsequently won a labor case is P15,000.00. If the case dragged on for ten (10) years, the award of backwages may be computed as follows:
Backwages = Basic Monthly Salary x No. of Months from Date Dismissal to Actual Reinstatement
= P15,000.00 x 120 months
What if the employee is a seasonal worker? More particularly, a seasonal worker in the sugarcane industry?
In the case of Ramiro Lim & Sons Agricultural Co., Inc., vs. Guilaran, et al. (G.R. No. 221967, February 6, 2019) the seasonal employees were presumed to have worked for six months in a year.
According to the Supreme Court, to determine the amount of backwages for piece-rate or pakyaw workers, there is a need to determine the varying degrees of production and days worked by each worker.
Citing Velasco vs. NLRC, the SC held that since the workers were paid on a piece-rate basis, there was a need for the NLRC to determine the varying degrees of production and the number of days worked by each worker.
The Labor Arbiter in the Ramiro case determined that the employees have been working for at least six months. According to SC, it has been recognized by jurisprudence that the season of sugar cane industries lasts for periods of six to eight months.
As the presumption is that the season of sugar cane industries lasts for six to eight months, the burden was on the employer to prove otherwise. The evidence submitted by the company failed to discharge this presumption.
The SC concluded that the grant of backwages based on the mandated rates provided by law and limited the computation of the amount to a period of six months of work per year, was not baseless and arbitrary. This was based on applicable law and jurisprudence.
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Backwages = (P10,000 x 120 months) / 2
= P1,200,000.00 / 2