Labor Woes and the NLRC -part 1-

Part 1:

“…any employee can go the NLRC and claim illegal dismissal, and the employer has no choice but to spend for legal services to prove otherwise. The employer is presumed guilty, just by the mere say so of the employee.
The premise of this rule is that all employees are saints, and all employers are rich enough to pay for legal costs. The absurdity is staring at us. It's time to get real.” – Marvin Aceron

In his blog called La Vida Lawyer, business litigator and advisor Marvin Aceron wrote a six-part entry detailing why the National Labor Relations Commission should be abolished based on grounds that it is biased towards the common employee and thus unfair to small and medium businesses that have the burden of proof in every case filed against them. He said, “The average legal cost for handling a labor case may be conservatively estimated at 50,000 pesos. Thus, the employer is already hit with a budget item. To big companies like PLDT or Ayala Corporation, 50,000 pesos is nothing. Unfortunately for this country, there are very few PLDTs and Ayala Corporations here. The average enterprise in this country will feel the hit of a 50,000 useless expense. That money is about the cost of two computers that could be used for operations, or about the cost of one payroll for eight employees. It would take only one whimsical foolish employee to fill out a pro-forma complaint for an employer to get hit with 50,000 pesos.” He also pointed out that since no proof nor lawyer is required to file a suit against one’s employer, that a barrage of baseless accusations is filed to the detriment of local businesses.

Atty. Aceron pointed out some very valid points in his blog, and while I disagree that employees have the unfair advantage over businesses in its current process, I do agree that a major overhaul has to be made at the NLRC, having filed two separate labor cases last year, let me point out a different point of view.

First, talking about getting real, if it will be required for employees to obtain legal counsel before filing a case in the NLRC, you can slash out 95% of those complainants already as majority of common employees will not be able to afford a lawyer. The “free” lawyers in the NLRC do not exactly bolster confidence especially if you know that you are up against a big-time company or even a medium scale one that can afford a real lawyer.
Secondly, in all my hanging out at the NLRC, employees do bring proof (contracts, termination letter, pay slips) when filing for a case. The grouchy old ladies to whom you submit the mimeographed tick-off forms will in fact ask you questions and even dissuade you from filing if they gather that you don’t actually have a legit case. Once convinced that you have a valid case, they then tell you to present that evidence to the labor arbiter. Interestingly though, the labor arbiters are an epic presence in their own offices. They are either gone from the office at 10 in the morning or are away for a long weekend… every week. Heck, mediation is 99% done by the personal assistants who may not have even set foot in a law school.
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