Burden to Prove Existence of Employer-Employee Relationship Lies with the ClaimantAtty Elvin
To ascertain the existence of an employer-employee relationship, jurisprudence has invariably adhered to the four-fold test, to wit: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the power to control the employee’s conduct, or the so-called “control test.”
This is highly relevant in a labor dispute involving a claim of illegal dismissal.
Although no particular form of evidence is required to prove the existence of an employer-employee relationship, and any competent and relevant evidence to prove the relationship may be admitted, a finding that the relationship exists must nonetheless rest on substantial evidence, or such amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. (Atienza vs. Saluta, G.R. No. 233413, June 17, 2019). Read the case digest of Atienza vs. Saluta here
In the case mentioned, both the NLRC and the CA made it the employer’s obligation to prove that the employee was under her employ and not a company driver of the corporation also sued by the employee.
According to the SC, it must be emphasized that the rule of thumb remains: the onus probandi falls on the employee to establish or substantiate his claim by the requisite quantum of evidence given that it is axiomatic that whoever claims entitlement to the benefits provided by law should establish his or her right thereto.
Where the employee fails to hurdle the required burden of proof, the Court would not have ground to agree with his claim.
In relation to illegal dismissal, the SC held that it is axiomatic that in illegal dismissal cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause.
However, there are cases wherein the facts and the evidence do not establish prima facie that the employee was dismissed from employment. Before the employer is obliged to prove that the dismissal was legal, the employee must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of his dismissal from service.
If there is no dismissal, then there can be no question as to the legality or illegality thereof.