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UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR MILLING CORPORATION and RENE CABATI v.

FERDINAND ACIBO, et al.


G.R. No. 186439, 15 January 2014
Doctrine: The period denominated in the contract of employment is not the basis in determining
whether an employee is seasonal or regular. Rather, the nature of the employment depends on the
nature of the activities to be performed by the employee, considering the nature of the employer's
business, the duration and scope to be done and, in some cases, even the length of time of the
performance and its continued existence.
Facts: FERDINAND ACIBO, et al. were employees of UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR
MILLING CORPORATION (URSUMCO). Acibo, et al. signed contracts of employment for a
given period and after its expiration, URSUMCO repeatedly hired these employees to perform
the same duties and obligations.
Acibo, et al. filed a complaint before the Labor Arbiter complaints for regularization, entitlement
to the benefits under the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and attorney's fees.
However, it was denied because the LA argued that they were seasonal/project employees.
As the complainants were project employees, they could not be regularized since their respective
employments were coterminous with the phase of the work or special project to which they were
assigned and which employments end upon the completion of each project. Accordingly, the
complainants were not entitled to the benefits granted under the CBA that, as provided, covered
only the regular employees of URSUMCO.
Seven of the 22 complainants filed an appeal to the NLRC. The latter reversed the LAs ruling
claiming that they were regular employees. The CA affirmed NLRCs decision but excluded the
Acibo, et al. from monetary benefits under the CBA.
ISSUE:

Whether or not Acibo, et al. are regular employees of URSUMCO.


HELD:
Plantation workers or mill employees only work on seasonal basis. This, however, does not
exclude them from the benefits of regularization. Being in such nature, Acibo, et al. are
considered to be regular employees.
Regular employment means that there was an arrangement between the employee and the
employer that the former will be engaged to perform activities which are necessary or desirable
to the usual business or trade of the latter. On the other hand, a project employment is an
arrangement for a specific project or undertaking whose termination is determined by the
completion of the project.
The nature of the employment does not depend solely on the will or word of the employer or on
the procedure for hiring and the manner of designating the employee. Rather, the nature of the
employment depends on the nature of the activities to be performed by the employee,
considering the nature of the employers business, the duration and scope to be done.
Accordingly, Acibo, et al. are neither project nor seasonal employees.
Acibo, et al. were made to perform tasks that does not pertain to milling operations of
URSUMCO. However, their duties are regularly and habitually needed in URSUMCOs
operation. Moreover, they were regularly and repeatedly hired to perform the same tasks. Being
repeatedly hired for the same purpose makes them regularized employees.
The plantation workers or the mill employees do not work continuously for 1 whole year but
only for the duration of the growing or the sugarcane or the milling season. Their seasonal work,
however, does not detract from considering them in regular employment.

RADIN C. ALCIRA vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION,


MIDDLEBY PHILIPPINES CORPORATION

G.R. No. 149859, June 9, 2004

Facts: Petitioner Radin C. Alcira was hired by respondent Middle by as engineering support
services supervisor on a probationary period for six months. Despite the indication of
probationary period in the appointment paper, the dates indicated in the copies in the possession
of the petitioner and the respondent, were different, May 20, 1996 and May 27, 1996,
respectively. On November 20, 1996, unhappy with petitioners performance, respondent Midde
by terminated the formers services. But according to the petitioner he is already a regular
employee effective November 16,1996, using Article 13 of the Civil Code that one month is
composed of 30 days, six months total 180 days. Hence, using May 20, 1996 as the reference
point, it was already considered a dismissal since it was made after the lapse of his probationary
employment.
The labor arbiter dismissed the complaint on the ground that: (1) respondents were able to prove
that petitioner was apprised of the standards for becoming a regular employee; (2) respondent
Mamaradlo's affidavit showed that petitioner "did not perform well in his assigned work and his
attitude was below par compared to the company's standard required of him" and (3) petitioner's
dismissal on November 20, 1996 was before his "regularization," considering that, counting from
May 20, 1996, the six-month probationary period ended on November 20, 1996.

Issue: WON petitioner is a regular employee at the time of his severance from employment.

Held: Article 281 of the Labor Code states that: PROBATIONARY EMPLOYMENT .
Probationary employment shall not exceed six (6) months from the date the employee started
working, unless it is covered by an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period. The
services of an employee who has been engaged on a probationary basis may be terminated for a
just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with reasonable

standards made known by the employer to the employee at the time of his engagement. An
employee who is allowed to work after a probationary period shall be considered a regular
employee.
In addition, Section 6 (d) of Rule 1 of the Implementing Rules of Book VI of the Labor Code
(Department Order No. 10, Series of 1997) provides that: In all cases of probationary
employment, the employer shall make known to the employee the standards under which he will
qualify as a regular employee at the time of his engagement. Where no standards are made
known to the employee at that time, he shall be deemed a regular employee.
The invocation of Article 13 of the CC is incorrect. In CALS Poultry Supply: (O)ur computation
of the 6-month probationary period is reckoned from the date of appointment up to the same
calendar date of the 6th month following.
The number of days in each particular month was irrelevant, petitioner was still a probationary
employee when respondent Middleby opted not to "regularize" him on November 20, 1996.|||
It was held that respondent Middleby substantially notified petitioner of the standards to qualify
as a regular employee when it apprised him, at the start of his employment, that it would evaluate
his supervisory skills after five months. Conversely, an employer is deemed to substantially
comply with the rule on notification of standards if he apprises the employee that he will be
subjected to a performance evaluation on a particular date after his hiring. The labor arbiter when
he ruled that in the instant case, petitioner cannot successfully say that he was never informed by
private respondent of the standards that he must satisfy in order to be converted into regular
status. This runs counter to the agreement between the parties that after five months of service
the petitioners performance would be evaluated. It is only but natural that the evaluation should
be made vis--vis the performance standards for the job.
It is settled that even if probationary employees do not enjoy permanent status, they are accorded
the constitutional protection of security of tenure. This means they may only be terminated for
just cause or when they otherwise fail to qualify as regular employees in accordance with
reasonable standards made known to them by the employer at the time of their engagement.

The severance from work of the petitioner can be regarded as dismissal, but cannot be deemed as
illegal. Middleby was clearly able to justify to the end its employment relationship with
petitioner.