Backwages and Reinstatement are Two Separate ReliefsAtty Elvin
Backwages allows the employee to recover from the employer that which he had lost by way of wages as a result of his dismissal. The twin remedies of reinstatement and payment of backwages make the dismissed employee whole who can then look forward to continued employment.
Backwages and reinstatement are separate and distinct reliefs given to an illegally dismissed employee in order to alleviate the economic damage brought about by the employee’s dismissal. “Reinstatement is a restoration to a state from which one has been removed or separated” while “the payment of backwages is a form of relief that restores the income that was lost by reason of the unlawful dismissal.”
Therefore, the award of one does not bar the other. In the case of Aliling vs. Feliciano, citing Golden Ace Builders vs. Talde, the Supreme Court explained the two reliefs provided are separate and distinct.
In instances where reinstatement is no longer feasible because of strained relations between the employee and the employer, separation pay is granted. In effect, an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to either reinstatement, if viable, or. separation pay if reinstatement is no longer viable, and backwages.
The normal consequences of respondents’ illegal dismissal, then, are reinstatement without loss of seniority rights, and payment of backwages computed from the time compensation was withheld up to the date of actual reinstatement.
Where reinstatement is no longer viable as an option, separation pay equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service should be awarded as an alternative. The payment of separation pay is in addition to payment of backwages.