The management’s prerogative on all aspects of employment are ordinarily reflected in the company or workplace policies. The company or workplace policies consist of the rules and regulations to be followed and observed in the workplace, as well as additional and more detailed terms and conditions of the employee’s employment.

The company policies are required to have provisions concerning: (a) sexual harassment; (b) drug free workplace; (c) HIV/AIDS; and (d) Hepatitis B.

Plantation Bay Resort and Spa v. Dubrico
G.R. No. 182216, 04 December 2009

Complainants, who were former employees of Plantation Bay located at Cebu, initiated a complaint for illegal dismissal against the Company.  Previously, the Company issued a series of memoranda and conducted seminars in connection with its drug-free workplace policy in compliance with R.A. No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). Thereafter, with the supposed assistance of PNP-SOCO, the Company conducted surprise random drug tests on some 122 employees. Complainants were among those who tested positive resulting in their dismissal. The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the company and subsequently affirmed by the NLRC. However, on motion for reconsideration, the NLRC ruled against the Company after the complainants raised for the first time on appeal the issue of veracity of the confirmatory tests citing irregularities.

HELD: The Company was liable for illegal dismissal.  The significance of the confirmatory test is highlighted in the Company’s own “Policy and Procedures,” which was “in compliance with Republic Act No. 9165, requiring that a confirmatory test must be conducted if an employee is found positive for drugs  in the Employee’s Prior Screening Test, and that both tests must arrive at the same positive result.”

Here, the confirmatory tests were released earlier than the receipt of the urine samples for drug testing, which expectedly created doubts. “Indeed, how can the presence of shabu be confirmed when the results of the initial screening were not yet out?  Plantation Bay’s arguments that it should not be made liable thereof and that the doubt arising from the time of the conduct of the drug and confirmatory tests was the result of the big volume of printouts being handled by Martell do not thus lie. It was Plantation Bay’s responsibility to ensure that the tests would be properly administered, the results thereof being the bases in terminating the employees’ services.”

As such, as the Company “failed to indubitably prove” that the employees were guilty of drug use “in contravention of its drug-free workplace policy amounting to serious misconduct,” the respondents are “deemed to have been illegally dismissed.”

Once the company policies take effect, the employer itself is required to observe them as a matter of law. Failure to observe them, the employer may be held liable.

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