An employee is entitled to fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Age-old rule

The rule on a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor is an age-old rule observed between the employer and the employee. The employer cannot be required to pay wages to an employee who did not render any service.

“The age-old rule governing the relation between labor and capital, or management and employee, of a ‘fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor’ remains as the basic factor in determining employees’ wages. If there is no work performed by the employee, there can be no wage or pay — unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed, or otherwise illegally prevented from working…”[1]

Hence, the principle of no work, no pay applies when an employee fails to render work on a designated work day.

Rules

As a general rule, the principle of no work, no pay applies. “If such employee is absent on a certain day, he should not, as a rule, be paid wages for that day. And if the employee has worked only for a portion of a day, he is not entitled to the pay corresponding to a full day. A contrary precept would ultimately result in the financial ruin of the employer.”[2]This rule requires that the employee who was ready, willing, and able to work was not prevented from performing work.

By way exceptions, an employee who did not work may be paid his wages if: (a) he was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed, or (b) otherwise illegally prevented from working.[3]

Case Law

Confiscation of driver’s license by a bus driver

In Navarro v. P.V. Pajarillo Liner, Inc.,[4] the employee (bus driver) had his license confiscated by a Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcer for a traffic violation. In turn, he was issued a traffic violation receipt (TVR) which served as a temporary driver’s license for seven days from apprehension. Instead of redeeming his driver’s license, he secured a 2-month extension for the TVR. When he was subsequently caught for another traffic violation, he was ordered by the traffic enforcer to drive the bus back to the garage. He was not able to work again with the employer after the incident.

The employer was found liable for constructive dismissal. However, on the issue of backwages, the employee was deemed not entitled thereto for being equally at fault. The employee “never bothered to redeem his license at the soonest possible time when there was no showing that he was unlawfully prevented by [his employer] from doing so. Thus, [the employee] should not be paid for the time he was not working. The Court has held that where the failure of employees to work was not due to the employer’s fault, the burden of economic loss suffered by the employees should not be shifted to the employer. Each party must bear his own loss.  It would be unfair to allow [the employee] to recover something he has not earned and could not have earned, since he could not discharge his work as a driver without his driver’s license. [The employer] should be exempted from the burden of paying backwages.”

Joining an illegal strike

In an economic strike, the general rule is that “backwages shall not be awarded in an economic strike on the principle that a fair day’s wage accrues only for a fair day’s labor. Even in cases of ULP strikes, award of backwages rests on the courts discretion and only in exceptional instances.”[5]

In Escario v. NLRC, Pinakamasarap Corporation,[6] employees who were dismissed after joining an illegal strike and subsequently reinstated are not entitled to pay for days not worked. “Conformably with the long honored principle of a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor, employees dismissed for joining an illegal strike are not entitled to backwages for the period of the strike even if they are reinstated by virtue of their being merely members of the striking union who did not commit any illegal act during the strike.”

Employee suffers a stroke

In Wuerth Philippines, Inc. v. Ynson,[7] an employee who suffered work and thereby failed to report for work is not entitled to any pay for the period of absence. “… [the employee’s] inability to work from January 24 to June 4, 2003, was neither due to [the employer’s] fault nor due to his willful conduct, but because he suffered a stroke on January 24, 2003. Hence, each must bear the loss accordingly… It would be unfair to allow [the employee] to recover something he has not earned and count not have earned, since he could not discharge his work as NSM. [The employer] should be exempted from the burden of paying backwages. The age-old rule governing the relation between labor and capital, or management and employee, of a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor remains as the basic factor in determining employee’s wages. If there is no work performed by the employee, there can be no wage or pay unless, of course, the laborer was able, willing and ready to work but was illegally locked out, suspended or dismissed, or otherwise illegally prevented from working, a situation which is not prevailing in the present case.”

 

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[1] Navarro v. P.V. Pajarillo Liner, Inc., G.R. No. 164681, 24 April 2009.

[2] Caltex Refinery Employees Association (CREA) v. Caltex (Philippines), Inc., G.R. No. 123782, 16 September 1997.

[3] G.R. No. 175932, 15 February 2012.

[4] Supra.

[5] Philippine Diamond Hotel and Resort, Inc. v. Manila Diamond Hotel Employees Union, G.R. No. 158075, 30 June 2006.

[6] G.R. No. 160302, 27 September 2010.

[7] G.R. No. 175932, 15 February 2012.