Project Employment Requires that the Employee is Informed at the Time of Engagement that he is to carry out a Particular ProjectAtty Elvin
Project employment exists when the employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee. (See page 276, The Labor Code of the Philippines by Atty. Elvin B. Villanueva citing Art. 295)
Where the employee is not informed of project employment at the time of engagement the presumption that he is a regular employee arises. (See Bajaro vs. Metro Stonerich Corp., G.R. No. 227982, April 23, 2018.)
Article 295 of the Labor Code, as amended and renumbered, defines a regular employee as (a) one that has been engaged to perform tasks usually necessary or desirable in the employer’s usual business or trade – without falling within the category of either a fixed, a project, or a seasonal employee; or (b) one that has been engaged for a least a year, with respect to the activity he or she is engaged, and the work of the employee remains while such activity exists. On the other hand, a project employee is one whose employment has been fixed for a specified project or undertaking, the completion or termination of which is made known at the time of the engagement of the employee.
In Dacuital vs. L.M Camus Engineering Corp., (644 Phil. 158, 169 (2010)) the SC stressed that a project employee is assigned to a project that starts and ends at a determined or determinable time. The Court elucidated therein that the principal test to determine if an employee is a project employee is – whether he or she is assigned to carry out a particular project or undertaking, which duration or scope was specified at the time of engagement.
In the case of Inocentes vs. R. Syjuco Construction, Inc., (G.R. No. 237020. July 29, 2019), the SC held that to ascertain whether employees were project employees, as claimed by the company, it is primordial to determine whether notice was given them that they were being engaged just for a specific project, which notice must be made at the time of hiring. However, no such prior notice was given by the company.
However, in said case, the company did not prove that they informed the employees, at the time of engagement, that they were being engaged as project employees. The duration and scope of their work was without prior notice to said employees.
While the lack of a written contract does not necessarily make one a regular employee, a written contract serves as proof that employees were informed of the duration and scope of their work and their status as project employee at the commencement of their engagement. There being none that was adduced here, the presumption that the employees are regular employees prevails. Inocentes vs. R. Syjuco Construction, Inc., (G.R. No. 237020. July 29, 2019)