Talent? | How can you be considered a regular employee

Are you a talent or contractual employee despite years of service in the company?

The Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center lists down the following Supreme Court rulings that might help you.

According to the Supreme Court Sept. 26, 2006 decision ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation vs. Marlyn Nazareno et. al., an employer-employer relationship exists between the respondents in the case of respondents (talents of ABS-CBN in the news and public affairs) and the petitioner, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation.

The high court noted that:

First. In the selection and engagement of respondents, no peculiar or unique skill, talent or celebrity status was required from them because they were merely hired through petitioner’s personnel department just like any ordinary employee.

Second. The so-called “talent fees” of respondents correspond to wages given as a result of an employer-employee relationship. Respondents did not have the power to bargain for huge talent fees, a circumstance negating independent contractual relationship.

Third. Petitioner could always discharge respondents should it find their work unsatisfactory, and respondents are highly dependent on the petitioner for continued work.

Fourth. The degree of control and supervision exercised by petitioner over respondents through its supervisors negates the allegation that respondents are independent contractors.”

The high court stated, “It is of no moment that petitioner hired respondents as talents. The fact that respondents received pre-agreed “talent fees” instead of salaries, that they did not observe the required office hours, and that they were permitted to join other productions during their free time are not conclusive of the nature of their employment. Respondents cannot be considered “talents” because they are not actors or actresses or radio specialists or mere clerks or utility employees. They are regular employees who perform several different duties under the control and direction of ABS-CBN executives and supervisors.

Infographic by Buhay Media
Infographic by Buhay Media

In another Supreme Court ruling, the Consolidated Broadcasting System Inc. vs. Danny Oberio, et. al., promulgated June 8, 2007, talents of DYWB-Radyo Bombo won the case against the company.

The SC said, “(T)he engagement of respondents (talents) for a period ranging from 2 to 25 years and the fact that their drama programs were aired not only in Bacolod City but also in the sister stations of DYWB in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, undoubtedly show that their work is necessary and indispensable to the usual business or trade of petitioner. The test to determine whether employment is regular or not is the reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee in relation to the usual business or trade of the employer. Also, if the employee has been performing the job for at least one year, even if the performance is not continuous or merely intermittent, the law deems the repeated and continuing need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity, if not indispensability of that activity to the business. Thus, even assuming that respondents were initially hired as project/contractual employees who were paid per drama or per project/contract, the engagement of their services for 2 to 25 years justify their classification as regular employees, their services being deemed indispensable to the business of petitioner.

As to the payment of wages, it was petitioner who paid the same as shown by the payroll bearing the name of petitioner company in the heading with the respective salaries of respondents opposite their names. Anent the power of control, dismissal, and imposition of disciplinary measures, which are indicative of an employer-employee relationship, the same were duly proven by the following: (1) memorandum duly noted by Wilfredo Alejaga, petitioner’s station manager, calling the attention of the “Drama Department” to the late submission of scripts by writers and the tardiness and absences of directors and talents, as well as the imposable fines of P100 to P200 for future infractions; (2) the memorandum of the station manager directing respondent Oberio to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for punching the time card of a certain Mrs. Fe Oberio who was not physically present in their office; and (3) the station manager’s memorandum suspending respondent Oberio for six days for the said infraction which constituted violation of petitioner’s network policy. All these, taken together, unmistakably show the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Not only did petitioner possess the power of control over their work but also the power to discipline them through the imposition of fines and suspension for violation of company rules and policies.”

Furthermore, in Murillo vs. Court of Appeals and Associated Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) dated June 8, 2007, the high court decided in favor of newscaster and co-anchor Thelma Dumpit-Murillo. Murillo filed a case of illegal dismissal against ABC. She signed three-months contract which was renewed continuously for four years. On her fourth year, the company refused to renew her contract.

The SC said :
“ xxx xxx xxx . The Court of Appeals committed reversible error when it held that petitioner was a fixed-term employee. Petitioner was a regular employee under contemplation of law. The practice of having fixed-term contracts in the industry does not automatically make all talent contracts valid and compliant with labor law. The assertion that a talent contract exists does not necessarily prevent a regular employment status.”

Citing the terms of the contract that Murillo signed, the high court said “the duties of petitioner as enumerated in her employment contract indicate that ABC had control over the work of petitioner. Aside from control, ABC also dictated the work assignments and payment of petitioner’s wages. ABC also had power to dismiss her. All these being present, clearly, there existed an employment relationship between petitioner and ABC.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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