An employer cannot be compelled to retain in its employ someone whose services is inimical to its interests.

“Under Article 282 (b) of the Labor Code, negligence must be both gross and habitual to justify the dismissal of an employee. Gross negligence is characterized by want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as other persons may be affected.

“In the present case, [the employee], as respondent’s Accounting Manager, failed to discharge her important duty of remitting SSS/PhilHealth contributions not once but quadruple times, resulting in respondents incurring of penalties totaling P18,580.41, not to mention the employees/members contributions being un-updated.

“Her claim of being overworked and undermanned does not persuade. As noted by [the employer], the company had been in operation for less than three (3) months at the time the negligence and delays were committed, with only a few transactions and only with one principal, Malaysian Merchant Marine Bhd., hence, its financial and accounting books should not have been difficult to prepare. Moreover, as claimed by [the employer] which was not refuted by [the employee], she failed to remit the contributions as early as November 2001 during which time, however, on-the-job trainees were still with the company, hence, her claim of being undermanned behind such failure does not lie.

“As to the delay in the remittance of SSS/PhilHealth contributions for January 2002, which petitioner claims to be due to the fact that the money intended for payment was not yet credited as of February 20, 2002 to [the employer’s] bank account, as well as to her absence the following day or on February 21, 2002 due to hypertension, the Court is not persuaded, given that at that time, she had already been in delay in the performance of her duties.

“On [the employee’s] declaration that I believe that I did something good for our office when our declaration of gross income submitted to City Hall for the renewal of our municipal license was lower than our actual gross income for which the office had paid a lower amount, the Court finds the same as betraying a streak of dishonesty in her. It partakes of serious misconduct…

x x x

“For her act of understating the company’s profits or financial position was willful and not a mere error of judgment, committed as it was in order to save costs, which to her warped mind, was supposed to benefit respondent. It was not merely a violation of company policy, but of the law itself, and put respondent at risk of being made legally liable. Verily, it warrants her dismissal from employment as respondents Accounting Manager, for as correctly ruled by the appellate court, an employer cannot be compelled to retain in its employ someone whose services is inimical to its interests.”

Llamas v. Ocean Gateway Maritime and Management, Inc., G.R. No. 179293, 14 August 2009

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