Library of PH Labor Law

DOLE Regional Director

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1. Summary

▪ The Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE Regional Director) has jurisdiction over certain cases.

▪ The DOLE Regional Director has the power to determine the existence of employer-employee relationship.

2. Concept

The Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE Regional Director) has jurisdiction over certain cases.

3. DOLE Regional Director Jurisdiction

1) Small monetary claims

Recovery of wages and other monetary claims and benefits, including legal interest owing to an employee or person employed in domestic or household service or househelper, arising from employer-employee relations; Provided, the aggregate money claims of each complainant do not exceed Five Thousand Pesos (Php5,000.00) (Article 129, Labor Code)

2) Labor standards cases

Labor standards cases resulting the visitorial and enforcement powers of the DOLE Secretary exercised through inspections/audits (Article 128, Ibid.)

a. When Php5,000.00 threshold does not apply

There is a view that despite Art. 128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by RA 7730, there is still a threshold amount set by Arts. 129 and 217 of the Labor Code when money claims are involved, i.e., that if it is for Php 5,000 and below, the jurisdiction is with the regional director of the DOLE, under Art. 129, and if the amount involved exceeds Php 5,000, the jurisdiction is with the labor arbiter, under Art. 217. The view states that despite the wording of Art. 128(b), this would only apply in the course of regular inspections undertaken by the DOLE, as differentiated from cases under Arts. 129 and 217, which originate from complaints. There are several cases, however, where the Court has ruled that Art. 128(b) has been amended to expand the powers of the DOLE Secretary and his duly authorized representatives by RA 7730. In these cases, the Court resolved that the DOLE had the jurisdiction, despite the amount of the money claims involved. Furthermore, in these cases, the inspection held by the DOLE regional director was prompted specifically by a complaint. Therefore, the initiation of a case through a complaint does not divest the DOLE Secretary or his duly authorized representative of jurisdiction under Art. 128(b). (People’s Broadcasting Service [Bombo Radyo Phils. Inc.] v. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, En Banc, G.R. No. 179652, 06 March 2012)

NB: Simplified, if the case originates as a labor standards case resulting from a DOLE inspection/audit, the amount due to be paid the employees is irrelevant, and thus does not remove jurisdiction of the Regional Director.

3) Occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) violations;

4) Union registration and cancellations;

5) Complainants against private recruitment and placement agencies (PRPAs) for local employment;

6) Voluntary arbitration cases submitted to them for resolution in their capacity as Ex-Officio Voluntary Arbitrators (EVAs) (DOLE D.O. No. 83-07, Series of 2007).

4. Employer-employee relationship, required

If a complaint is brought before the DOLE to give effect to the labor standards provisions of the Labor Code or other labor legislation, and there is a finding by the DOLE that there is an existing employer-employee relationship, the DOLE exercises jurisdiction to the exclusion of the NLRC. If the DOLE finds that there is no employer-employee relationship, the jurisdiction is properly with the NLRC. (Ibid.)

If a complaint is filed with the DOLE, and it is accompanied by a claim for reinstatement, the jurisdiction is properly with the Labor Arbiter, under Art. 217(3) of the Labor Code, which provides that the Labor Arbiter has original and exclusive jurisdiction over those cases involving wages, rates of pay, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of employment, if accompanied by a claim for reinstatement. (Ibid.)

If a complaint is filed with the NLRC, and there is still an existing employer-employee relationship, the jurisdiction is properly with the DOLE. The findings of the DOLE, however, may still be questioned through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. (Ibid.)

5. DOLE has power to determine employer-employee relationship

Under Art. 128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by RA 7730, the DOLE is fully empowered to make a determination as to the existence of an employer-employee relationship in the exercise of its visitorial and enforcement power, subject to judicial review, not review by the NLRC. (Ibid.)

No limitation in the law was placed upon the power of the DOLE to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship. No procedure was laid down where the DOLE would only make a preliminary finding, that the power was primarily held by the NLRC. The law did not say that the DOLE would first seek the NLRC’s determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship, or that should the existence of the employer-employee relationship be disputed, the DOLE would refer the matter to the NLRC. The DOLE must have the power to determine whether or not an employer-employee relationship exists, and from there to decide whether or not to issue compliance orders in accordance with Art. 128(b) of the Labor Code, as amended by RA 7730. (Ibid.)

If the DOLE makes a finding that there is an existing employer-employee relationship, it takes cognizance of the matter, to the exclusion of the NLRC. The DOLE would have no jurisdiction only if the employer-employee relationship has already been terminated, or it appears, upon review, that no employer-employee relationship existed in the first place. (Ibid.)

It must also be remembered that the power of the DOLE to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship need not necessarily result in an affirmative finding. The DOLE may well make the determination that no employer-employee relationship exists, thus divesting itself of jurisdiction over the case. It must not be precluded from being able to reach its own conclusions, not by the parties, and certainly not by this Court. (Ibid.)

The determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship by the DOLE must be respected. The expanded visitorial and enforcement power of the DOLE granted by RA 7730 would be rendered nugatory if the alleged employer could, by the simple expedient of disputing the employer-employee relationship, force the referral of the matter to the NLRC. The Court issued the declaration that at least a prima facie showing of the absence of an employer-employee relationship be made to oust the DOLE of jurisdiction. But it is precisely the DOLE that will be faced with that evidence, and it is the DOLE that will weigh it, to see if the same does successfully refute the existence of an employer-employee relationship. (Ibid.)

a. Recovery and adjudicatory power

The SOLE, under Article 106 of the Labor Code, as amended, exercises quasi-judicial power, at least to the extent necessary to determine violations of labor standards provisions of the Code and other labor legislation. He/she or the Regional Directors can issue compliance orders and writs of execution for the enforcement thereof. (Jethro Intelligence & Security Corporation v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 172537, 14 August 2009)

b. Hearings

The Regional Director in cases where employer relations shall exist, shall have the power to order and administer, after due notice and hearing, compliance with the labor standards provisions of the Code and other labor legislations based on the findings of the Labor Regulation Officers or Industrial Safety Engineers (Labor Standard and Welfare Officer) and made in the course of inspection, and to issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority of the enforcement of his order. In line with the provisions of Article 128 in relation to Articles 289 and 290 of the Labor Code as amended in cases, however, where the employer contests the findings of the Labor Standards and Welfare Officers and raises issues which cannot be resolved without considering evidentiary matters that are not verifiable in the normal course of inspection, the Regional Director concerned shall indorse the case to the appropriate arbitration branch of the National Labor Relations Commission for adjudication. (Section 2, Rule X, Book III, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code)

Within 24 hours from issuance of the order of stoppage or suspension, a hearing shall be conducted to determine whether the order for the stoppage of work or suspension of operation shall be lifted or not. The proceedings shall be terminated within seventy-two (72) hours and a copy of such order or resolution shall be immediately furnished the Secretary of Labor and Employment. In case the violation is attributable to the fault of the employer, he shall pay the employees concerned their salaries or wages during the period of such stoppage of work or suspension of operation. (Section 3[a], Rule X, Book III, Ibid.)

c. Compliance orders

DOLE Regional Directors have the authority and power to issue compliance orders to compel employers to comply with labor laws and regulations after hearing out a labor standards case.

d. Writ of execution

The Regional Director in cases where employer relations shall exist, shall have the power to order and administer, after due notice and hearing, compliance with the labor standards provisions of the Code and other labor legislations based on the findings of the Labor Regulation Officers or Industrial Safety Engineers (Labor Standard and Welfare Officer) and made in the course of inspection, and to issue writs of execution to the appropriate authority of the enforcement of his order. (Section 2, Rule X, Book III, Ibid.)

e. Work Stoppage Order

The Regional Director may likewise order stoppage of work or suspension of operations of any unit or department of an establishment when non-compliance with the law, safety order or implementing rules and regulations poses grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers in the workplace. (Section 3[a], Rule X, Book III, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code)

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References

Presidential Decree No. 442, Labor Code of the Philippines

DOLE Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code

▪ Jurisprudence or Supreme Court Decisions

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