Resignation is the formal relinquishment of an office, the overt act of which is coupled with an intent to renounce. This intent could be inferred from the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation.

Complainant Jeremias Cabiles filed a labor complaint primarily to recover retirement benefits from his employer Defendant Intel Technology Philippines, Inc. “Cabiles was initially hired by Intel Phil. on April 16, 1997 as an Inventory Analyst. He was subsequently promoted several times over the years and was also assigned at Intel Arizona and Intel Chengdu. He later applied for a position at Intel Semiconductor Limited Hong Kong (Intel HK).” He was offered by the latter the position of Finance Manager. 

Prior to accepting the post, Complainant sent an email to Defendant which read:

“Are there any clearance requirements I need to fulfil as I move as a local hire to Hong Kong starting February 1?? I am still on my expat assignment in Chengdu till it ends January 31. Then immediately I become a HK local employee so I don’t technically repatriate and work back to my home site Philippines at all.

“Nevertheless, I still need to close I think my employment there and so that all my ES benefits and clearance will be closed like conversion of my vacation leaves to cash, carry over of my service tenure in CV to HK etc. Please do let me know what process I need to go through or would an email notification be enough?

“Another issue I would like to clarify is with regard to my retirement benefits. Will celebrate my 10th year of service with Intel on April 16, 2007. However, because I will be moving to Hong Kong as a local hire starting February 1, would I still be entitled to retirement benefits?? Do we round up the years of service if its close enough to 10 years?? If not, what other alternatives I have or do I just lose my years of service at Intel Philippines? Any possibility that I keep my 9.5 years and start it from there when I work in the Philippines again in the future?? [Emphases supplied]”

In response, Defendant stated that Complainant was not yet entitled to the retirement benefit as he has not yet rendered at least 10 years of service. Afterwards, Complainant received his final pay and executed a Release, Waiver, and Quitclaim (Waiver). After seven (7) months with Intel HK, Complainant resigned. Two years after that, he filed the present labor case alleging non-payment of retirement benefits and for moral and exemplary damages. He insists that he has been employed with by Intel for 10 years and 5 months, including his Intel HK stint.

HELD: Complainant was not entitled to his retirement benefits as he did not render 10 years of service. Complainant resigned prior to making it on his 10th year. “Resignation is the formal relinquishment of an office, the overt act of which is coupled with an intent to renounce. This intent could be inferred from the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation.”

Here, “[Complainant], while still on a temporary assignment in Intel Chengdu, was offered by Intel HK the job of a Finance Manager.”

In his letter, it showed two of Complainant’s main concerns: “a) clearance procedures; and b) the probability of getting his retirement pay despite the non-completion of the required 10 years of employment service. Beyond these concerns, however, was his acceptance of the fact that he would be ending his relationship with Intel Phil. as his employer. The words he used – local hire, close, clearance – denote nothing but his firm resolve to voluntarily disassociate himself from Intel Phil. and take on new responsibilities with Intel HK.”

Even if there was no favorable response to that letter, Complainant still accepted the Intel HK post. “His acceptance of the offer meant letting go of the retirement benefits he now claims as he was informed through email correspondence that his 9.5 years of service with Intel Phil. would not be rounded off in his favor. He, thus, placed himself in this position, as he chose to be employed in a company that would pay him more than what he could earn in Chengdu or in the Philippines.”

Complainant made a choice. “The choice of staying with Intel Phil. vis-à-vis a very attractive opportunity with Intel HK put him in a dilemma. If he would wait to complete ten (10) years of service with Intel Phil. (in about 4 months) he would enjoy the fruits of his retirement but at the same time it would mean forfeiture of Intel HK’s compensation offer in the amount of HK $ 942,500.00, an amount a lot bigger than what he would receive under the plan. He decided to forfeit and became Intel HK’s newest hire.”

As such, Complainant did resign. “All these are indicative of the clearest intent of Cabiles to sever ties with Intel Phil. He chose to forego his tenure with Intel Phil., with all its associated benefits, in favor of a more lucrative job for him and his family with Intel HK.”

Regarding his claim that he was merely assigned Intel HK or an extension of his employment with Intel Phil., there is no such secondment contract. “The continuity, existence or termination of an employer-employee relationship in a typical secondment contract or any employment contract for that matter is measured by the following yardsticks: … 1. the selection and engagement of the employee; … 2. the payment of wages; … 3. the power of dismissal; … and 4. the employer’s power to control the employee’s conduct.”

Applying the four-fold test, Intel HK became the new employer. “It provided Cabiles his compensation. Cabiles then became subject to Hong Kong labor laws, and necessarily, the rights appurtenant thereto, including the right of Intel HK to fire him on available grounds. Lastly, Intel HK had control and supervision over him as its new Finance Manager. Evidently, Intel Phil. no longer had any control over him.”

Complainant’s Waiver was valid. Citing jurisprudence, “[n]ot all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. But where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking.”

Citation: G.R. No. 200575, 05 February 2014

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