Part Time Employees are Entitled to Retirement BenefitsAtty Elvin
Juanito Bernardo filed a complaint against DLS-AU for the payment of retirement benefits. Bernardo alleged that he started working as a part-time professional lecturer at DLS-AU (formerly known as the Araneta University Foundation) on June 1, 1974.
Bernardo’s teaching contract was renewed at the start of every semester and summer. However, on November 8, 2003, DLS-AU informed Bernardo through a telephone call that he could not teach at the school anymore as the school was implementing the retirement age limit for its faculty members. As he was already 75 years old, Bernardo had no choice but to retire.
Yet, Dr. Bautista, in a letter stated that Bernardo was not entitled to any kind of separation pay or benefits. Dr. Bautista explained to Bernardo that as mandated by the DLS-AU’s policy and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), only full-time permanent faculty of DLS-AU for at least five years immediately preceding the termination of their employment could avail themselves of the post-employment benefits. As part-time faculty member, Bernardo did not acquire permanent employment under the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, in relation to the Labor Code, regardless of his length of service. Aggrieved by the repeated denials of his claim for retirement benefits, Bernardo filed before the NLRC, National Capital Region, a complaint for non-payment of retirement benefits and damages against DLS-AU and Dr. Bautista.
DLS-AU and Dr. Bautista maintained that Bernardo, as a part-time employee, was not entitled to retirement benefits. The contract between DLS-AU and Bernardo was for a fixed term, i.e., one semester.
Republic Act No. 7641 is a curative social legislation. It precisely intends to give the minimum retirement benefits to employees not entitled to the same under collective bargaining and other agreements. It also applies to establishments with existing collective bargaining or other agreements or voluntary retirement plans whose benefits are Jess than those prescribed in said law.
Through a Labor Advisory dated October 24, 1996, then Secretary of Labor, and later Supreme Court Justice, Leonardo A. Quisumbing (Secretary Quisumbing), provided Guidelines for the Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 7641, The Retirement Pay Law, addressed to all employers in the private sector. In said Guidelines, they shall include part-time employees, employees of service and other job contractors and domestic helpers or persons in the personal service of another.
Bernardo -being 75 years old at the time of his retirement, having served DLS-AU for a total of 27 years, and not being covered by the grant of retirement benefits in the CBA -is unquestionably qualified to avail himself of retirement benefits under said statutory provision, i.e., equivalent to one-half month salary for every year of service, a fraction of at least six months being considered as one whole year.
Bernardo’s right to retirement benefits and the obligation of DLS-AU to pay such benefits are already established under Article 302  of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7641.
(De La Salle Araneta University vs. Juanito C. Bernardo, G.R. No. 190809, February 13, 2017)
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