Incompetence as Ground for Dismissal Requires Substantial EvidenceAtty Elvin
Incompetence or inefficiency as a ground for dismissal contemplates the failure to attain work goals or work quotas, either by failing to complete the same within the allotted reasonable period, or by producing unsatisfactory results. (Eagle Clarc Shipping Philippines, Inc. vs. NLRC [G.R. No. 245370, July 13, 2020])
Incompetence or inefficiency belongs to the gross and habitual neglect of duty as ground for dismissal. Article 297 of the Labor Code provides for just causes, to wit:
- Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
- Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
- Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative;
- Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representatives; and
- Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
As a general concept, poor performance is tantamount to inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties. An unsatisfactory rating can be a just cause for dismissal only if it amounts to gross and habitual neglect of duties. Poor or unsatisfactory performance of an employee does not necessarily mean that he is guilty of gross and habitual neglect of duties. In labor cases, the burden of proving that the termination of an employee was for a just or authorized cause lies with the employer. If the employer fails to meet this burden, the conclusion is that the dismissal was unjustified and, therefore, illegal.
Moreover, not only must the dismissal be for a cause provided by law, it should also comply with the rudimentary requirements of due process, that is, the opportunity to be heard and defend one’s self. Thus, for dismissal to be valid, the employer must show through substantial evidence – or such amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion – that (1) the dismissal was for a just or authorized cause; and (2) the dismissed employee was afforded due process.
In a case where the company asserts that the employee’s termination was due to his incompetence and inefficiency due to his failure to pass the criteria set by petitioners in relation to his work, the company is under obligation to present any evidence to substantiate such claim.
Incompetence or inefficiency as a ground for dismissal contemplates the failure to attain work goals or work quotas, either by failing to complete the same within the allotted reasonable period, or by producing unsatisfactory results.
Where apart from bare allegation that the employee was dismissed due to incompetence and inefficiency as he “failed to pass the criteria set by petitioners in relation to his work,” the company failed to present any evidence to substantiate such claim, there could be illegal dismissal.
If there is no evidence presented to support the allegation that he was grossly and habitually neglectful of his duties that would merit his dismissal the burden on the employer is not discharged.
The Supreme Court (SC) has consistently held that uncorroborated and self-serving statements of employers are sorely inadequate in meeting the required quantum of proof to discharge their burden.
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