SC Delineates Jurisdiction of DOLE vis-a-vis NLRC
In a March 2012 decision, the Supreme Court delineates the jurisdiction of the DOLE Secretary vis-à-vis that of the NLRC.
The Court ruled that 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. x x x
The DOLE, in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship, has a ready set of guidelines to follow, the same guide the courts themselves use. The elements to determine the existence of an employment relationship are: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; (4) the employer’s power to control the employee’s conduct. The use of this test is not solely limited to the NLRC. The DOLE Secretary, or his or her representatives, can utilize the same test, even in the course of inspection, making use of the same evidence that would have been presented before the NLRC. x x x
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. x x x
To recapitulate, 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. 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. 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. (People’s Broadcasting Service vs. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 179652, March 6, 2012)
Research, Information and Publications Division
National Labor Relations Commission