Probationary Employment Termination Based on False Rating Results in Illegal Dismissal

Probationary Employment Termination Based on False Rating Results in Illegal Dismissal

Probationary employment is a trial period where the employer tests the employee if he is qualified to become a regular worker.

Naturally, before an employer hires an employee, the former can require the employee, upon his engagement, to undergo a trial period during which the employer determines his fitness to qualify for regular employment based on reasonable standards made known to him at the time of engagement. (Carvajal vs. Luzon Development Bank, G.R. No. 186169, August 1, 2012).

This is the concept of probationary employment which is intended to afford the employer an opportunity to observe the fitness of a probationary employee while at work, and to ascertain whether he will become an efficient and productive employee. While the employer observes the fitness, propriety and efficiency of a probationer to ascertain whether he is qualified for permanent employment, the probationer, on the other hand, seeks to prove to the satisfaction of the employer that he has the qualifications to meet the reasonable standards for permanent employment. (Carvajal vs. Luzon Development Bank, G.R. No. 186169, August 1, 2012)

The power of the employer to terminate a probationary employee is subject to three limitations, namely: (See page 47, Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees, 2nd Edition, by Atty. Elvin B. Villanueva)

(1)  it must be exercised in accordance with the specific requirements of the contract;

(2)  the dissatisfaction on the part of the employer must be real and in good faith, not feigned so as to circumvent the contract or the law; and

(3)  there must be no unlawful discrimination in the dismissal.

Thus, the evaluation of an employee must be legitimate. There should be no subterfuge to dismiss the employee.

In a case where the employer deliberately falsified the ratings, the Supreme Court held that the termination of the probationary employee is illegal. (See Skyway O & M Corporation vs. Reinante, G.R. No. 222233, August 28, 2019; See the digest of the Skyway case here)

Simply put, the services of a probationary employee may be terminated for any of the following: (1) a just cause; (2) an authorized cause; and (3) failure to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with the reasonable standards prescribed by the employer.

Here, the fact that Wilfredo, in the Skyway case, was deliberately given an unmeritorious rating to prevent him from attaining the status of a regular employee was acknowledged by Augusto himself, Wilfredo’s supervisor. This is corroborated by Domingo T. Hernandez, an employee of Skyway. Both admitted rendering false and unfounded rating to Wilfredo’s performance when, in truth, he should not have been dismissed from the company.

Considering that Wilfredo was not dismissed for a just or authorized cause, his dismissal from employment was illegal. As properly observed by the CA. the termination of his employment based on his alleged unsatisfactory performance rating was effected merely as a subterfuge after he discovered the hiring or appointment by Skyway of unqualified security officers.

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