Law on Retrenchment: Philippine Airlines case

After many years of battling it out in the Supreme Court, the association of flight attendants of the Philippine Airlines finally obtained a decision declaring their retrenchment illegal.

In its decision, the Supreme Court restates the requirements of retrenchment for it to be considered as a valid exercise of management prerogative. “In order for a retrenchment scheme to be valid, all of the following elements under Article 283 of the Labor Code must concur or be present, to wit:

(1) That retrenchment is reasonably necessary and likely to prevent business losses which, if already incurred, are not merely de minimis, but substantial, serious, actual and real, or if only expected, are reasonably imminent as perceived objectively and in good faith by the employer;

(2) That the employer served written notice both to the employees and to the Department of Labor and Employment at least one month prior to the intended date of retrenchment;

(3) That the employer pays the retrenched employees separation pay equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (½) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher;

(4) That the employer exercises its prerogative to retrench employees in good faith for the advancement of its interest and not to defeat or circumvent the employees’ right to security of tenure; and,

(5) That the employer uses fair and reasonable criteria in ascertaining who would be dismissed and who would be retained among the employees, such as status, efficiency, seniority, physical fitness, age, and financial hardship for certain workers.”

Retrenchment must be exercised by the employer as a last resort to prevent serious business losses or avoid closure of business.

In the case at bar, the Court viewed the retrenchment as a “knee jerk response” to a “temporary” situation, i.e. the pilots’ strike in 1998, without first exhausting other cost cutting measures such as work rotation and hotel-sharing.

FLIGHT ATTENDANTS AND STEWARDS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (FASAP) vs. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (G.R. 178083, Oct. 02, 2009)

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