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Jeannette V. Manalo vs TNS Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 208567, Nov.

26, 2014
..stated that a project employee who was continuously (as opposed to
intermittently) rehired by the same employer for the same tasks, and “these tasks
are vital, necessary and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the
employer” should be considered a regular employee.

TNS was engaged in providing marketing research and information, consultancy and
other value-added services to local and international clients.
It employed field personnel on a project-to-project basis to gather consumer data
about their clients’ products or services through personal interviews, telephone calls,
and other similar modes.
The employees earlier mentioned were made to sign project-to-project employment
contracts.

In the instant case, the employees’ successive re-engagement to perform the same
kind of work showed the necessity and desirability of the work in the usual business
of TNS as a market research facility.

“the company shall have the option of renewing or extending the period of this
agreement for such time as it may be necessary to complete the project or because
we need further time to determine your competence on the job.”

For the tribunal, the underscored phrase would refer to a probationary employment
and runs counter to the nature of a project employment.
Under this provision, TNS can extend the contract although it is supposed to be fixed
when it deems it necessary to determine the employee’s qualification for the job.
In the same token, TNS can preterminate the contract not because the project has
been completed ahead of time, but because of the employee’s failure to qualify for
the job.
The provisions in question rendered the supposed project employment contracts
highly doubtful.
Summing up, the tribunal stated that “in determining the true nature of an
employment, the entirety of the contract, not merely its designation, or by which it
was denominated, is controlling.”
For the reasons cited, the employees were declared to be regular employees of TNS.
Considering that TNS failed to prove that they were dismissed for a just or authorized
cause, their removal was ruled as illegal.

Accordingly, TNS was ordered, in lieu of reinstatement, to pay them backwages and
separation pay.
It was a fitting reward for a six-year struggle for justice they rightly deserved.

A project employee may acquire the status of a regular employee when


they are continuously rehired after the completion of the project or when
the tasks they perform are vital, necessary, and indispensable to the usual
business or trade of the employer.