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NCC Articles 19,20,21: Hope for Abused Job Orders?

Job orders. They were my topic in a previous post entitled – The Ordeal of Job Orders in the GovernmentFor some reason, I am drawn to the job orders’ predicament – working hard because they need to be earn, but never truly rewarded in ways they should be. Now this decision I came across with is timely, interesting, and related because it dealt with the issue of a woman working for SSS as an outsourced worker for 6 years and receiving a much, much lower salary than regular SSS employees doing the same work as hers. Read on.

Photo from media.licdn.com
Photo from media.licdn.com

Debbie Ubaña applied for employment at SSS in 1995. She passed the exam and submitted the requirements asked from her, but she was referred to DBP Service Corporation for “transitory employment”. DBP Service Corp. made her sign a 6-month service contract in May 1996 as a clerk at SSS Daet Branch. Her daily wage was fixed at P171.00 per day. The contract was never renewed, but from 1996-2002 Debbie continued working for various units at SSS-Daet.

In August 2002, Debbie resigned from her work at SSS as she could no longer stand being given empty and false promises, feeling the agony of dissatisfaction, anxiety, demoralization, and injustice. At the time of her resignation, she was being paid P229.00 per day or P5,038.00 per month as a Processor. Regular SSS Processors, on the other hand, earned P846.45 per day or P18,622.00 per month.

Debbie felt that she was badly exploited despite dedicating 6 years of her time serving the government agency. She also claimed that SSS violated civil service laws and regulations as well as the Civil Code provisions on Human Relations particularly Articles 19, 20, and 21, which reads:

Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

Art. 20. Every person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

Art. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

Because of those, Debbie filed a case before the Regional Trial Court seeking to recover proper salary and other damages. SSS raised the issue of jurisdiction and claimed that the RTC cannot hear the case because it involves an employer-employee relationship which only the NLRC can try.
Photo from http://www.ueunion.org/
Photo from http://www.ueunion.org/
The Supreme Court ruled out any employer-employee relationship between SSS and Debbie because SSS had legitimate service contracts with independent contractors who engaged Debbie. The Court agreed that the RTC had jurisdiction and not NLRC because Debbie’s case is premised on the claim that  the SSS unjustly enriched itself at her expense by paying her lower salaries. The Supreme Court likewise agreed that it was unfair for Debbie not to receive the same amount of salary as that of the regular SSS processors despite them performing identical functions. It emphasized the principle of “equal pay for equal work” where persons who work with substantially equal qualifications, skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar conditions, should be paid similar salaries. The Supreme Court further said that SSS, as the government entity charged with ensuring social security, must set the example by treating everyone with justice and fairness.

 

To read the full text of the case (Social Security System vs Debbie Ubaña, GR No. 200114, August 24, 2015), click here.***featured image for this post is taken from www.businessnewsdaily.com

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