Hearing or Conference is not a Trial Court Proceeding and still Valid Despite Absence of Trial TechnicalitiesAtty Elvin
Hearing or conference in termination cases need not be conducted in a trial type manner. It is sufficient that the employee to be dismissed is given an ample opportunity to be heard.
The post below is based on the book Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees Second Edition.
In a regular trial court procedure, the parties present evidence in the manner provided by the Rules of Court, except in certain instances where these requirements are not mandatory. The parties are subjected to direct, cross, re-direct and re-cross examinations. The technical rules of evidence apply in regular procedure but not strictly in labor cases, subject to certain exceptions.
All the more that such kind of court jostle does not govern the hearing or conference initiated by the employer for the dismissal of the employee.
Notice and hearing in termination cases do not connote full adversarial proceedings as elucidated in numerous cases decided by the court. The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side.
In the case of Nuez vs. NLRC69 the Supreme Court held as follows:
“We also held in Manggagawa ng Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas vs. National Labor Relations Commission:
What the law requires, as held in De Leon vs. NLRC (G.R. No. L-52056, October 30, 1980, 100 SCRA 691), cited by petitioners, is for the employer to inform the employee of the specific charges against him and to hear his side or defenses.
This does not however mean a full adversarial proceeding. Litigants may be heard thru:
(1) pleadings, written explanations, position papers, memorandum;
(2) oral arguments.
In both instances, the employer plays an active role — he must provide the employee the opportunity to present his side and answer the charges, in substantial compliance with due process. Actual adversarial proceeding becomes necessary only for clarification or when there is a need to propound searching questions to unclear witnesses.
This is a procedural right which the employee must, however, ask for it is not an inherent right, and summary proceedings may be conducted. This is to correct the common but mistaken perception that procedural due process entails lengthy oral arguments.”
Hence, in the hearing or conference, the parties may submit the following:
2. Written explanations
3. Position papers and
They may also engage in oral arguments.
Hearing in administrative proceedings and before quasi-judicial agencies are neither oratorical contests nor debating skirmishes where cross-examination skills are displayed. Non-verbal devices such as written explanations, affidavits, position papers or other pleadings can establish just as clearly and concisely aggrieved parties’ predicament or defense.
What is essential is ample opportunity to be heard, meaning, every kind of assistance that management must accord the employee to prepare adequately for his defense.