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Analysis on Labor Cases

1.Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel vs. NLRC, G. R. No. 121621, May 3, 1999

Reflection: Based from the extent of management’s prerogative to transfer or re-assigning workers, a
transfer means a movement (1) from one position to another of equivalent rank, level or salary, without a
break in the service; or (2) from one office to another within the same business establishment. An employee
who refuses to be transferred, when such transfer is valid, is guilty of insubordination.

2. Employment is terminated due to refusal to transfer


Outline of case: the employee refuses to be employed by another business unit. The proposal by the
employer was fair in light of the circumstances of the case. The importance of the employer to transfer the
worker outweighs the interest of the worker.
Case
An employee has been employed since January 1, 1989 when the predecessor of SDU Uitgevers BV (SDU)
acted as the acquirer for the ad group Automation. Since July 1, 2007, the employee performs the function
of account manager in the construction business unit. This consists mainly of recruiting of advertisers.
In 2008, the employee has an affective relationship with a colleague. This colleague was also employed at
the business unit Construction of SDU. As of September 1, 2008, the male colleague joined Kluwer, which
is a competitor of SDU. By letter dated September 12, 2008, SDU has informed the employee that the move
from her colleague to Kluwer and her relationship with him are sufficient reason to question her work in the
Construction Unit. She was then offered a transfer to the Business Information unit of SDU. The reason for
the transfer is to protect business interests. The employee is transferred so she is not working within the
customer base of the Construction business unit. The personal relationship that this employee had with her
ex-colleague is too risky in connection with intertwined interests.
Court of first instance ruling
The employee refuses employment with another business unit of SDU. On December 24, 2008 the employee
requests the District Court to rescind the contract. The District Court awarded the employee severance
payment in the amount of 17,500 Euros. This is in contrast to the amount of 103.123 Euros that she has
claimed. The employee therefore appeals the verdict.
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal considers whether SDU was authorized to instruct the employee to continue her
work at another business unit. Suggested that while It should be considered whether SDU possessed the
discretion to transfer the employee to another job position. The Court believes that the employer does not
contain this authority, based upon the instructional competence rules resulting from Article 7:660 Civil
Code. The case is appealed with the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has determined that the employer and employee are required to behave as a good
employer and a good employee towards each other. Regarding the employee this means that he must deal
with reasonable proposals of the employer relating to changing circumstances at work. In general, the
employee should react positive on this, he may only reject such proposals, if this cannot be expected from
him in all reason. It should be examined whether the employer’s proposal is reasonable. The Supreme Court
referred the case back to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal held that the proposal of SDU is reasonable. The importance of SDU in the
transfer of the worker outweighs the interest of the worker. The Court considers that the employment
relationship between the SDU and the worker might become pressurized because of conflicts of interest and
loyalty. It is important for the SDU that the commercial business unit should be allowed to develop strategic
plans freely without the risk that these plans could be released to its direct competitor. According to the
Court, these are important interests. The employee believes that she has no tie to the business unit at all. The
Court considers that this interest weighs less than the interests of SDU. The offer of the employer to transfer
the employee was therefore reasonable.

Reflection: There are many employees who lose their jobs either because of ignorance, erroneous legal
advice or for being simply stubborn, hard-headed, rebellious and lacking in the basic humility to obey a
lawful order emanating from his management or superior. People should be told that rights are never
absolute. Job security, as enshrined in the Constitution and in the Labor Code, does not mean security to
remain in a specific position or assignment. Management has the inherent prerogative to decide what
assignment to give to specific personnel, and to transfer them in the greater interests of the service, and
when required by the exigencies of the business. Employees who defy valid transfer orders stand to lose
their jobs due to insubordination. Employees who disobey are subject to the exercise by management of its
prerogative to discipline and dismiss.

3. Question/Task: As a consultant you are asked to identify the problems causing low motivation. Suggest
solutions to senior management.

Employee Motivation. PhilPlans Corporation Marketing Department is in trouble. Productivity has


dropped within the Department and employees there appear to have low motivation. The problem started
when Sherra sent some suggestions to improve efficiency to the General Manager. Her section head, Jay,
rebuked her for not going through the "proper channels". Since then, he has required all communications to
be directed in writing to him, but does not reply to any that have been sent. On the other hand, he issues
instructions through the e-mail system only. Staff have had applications for transfer refused, and Mike has
rigorously applied the rules on lunch times, morning teas and time off. Mike runs a "tight ship", but
productivity is falling, and his latest edict is that unless it rises, jobs will go. Experienced staff say they are
looking around for other jobs. Mike is well regarded by his seniors, but there have been concerns about
productivity.

Analysis
The above case is about a communications problem, but the subsidiary related problem is control. The
communication problem specifically relates to two way written communication. The control problem relates
to a management practice.

Reflection: Communication plays a vital role in any agency, it keeps the agency stand-still from any
circumstances. Personal preferences, shifting workplace dynamics, or miscommunications are all common
causes for conflict in the workplace. With the influence of globalization, increasingly diverse teams of
colleagues also find themselves vulnerable to a high potential for misunderstandings. Conflict often stems
from an individual’s sense of justice. The analysis is correct perhaps, because the letter wasn’t sent properly.
But in the contrary, the staff control makes the company produced unproductive outcomes. Ideally, a senior
manager is able to create an environment where conflict is rare, and everyone can cooperate while working
towards a common goal. But conflict prevention plays a large role in staving off problems before they start.
Work towards developing a clear structure for roles and responsibilities within your organization. Work
closely with HR and strive to hire employees who can handle conflict properly. A harmonious work
atmosphere depends not only on transparent communication and regular feedback sessions with your
employees, but also based on trust that your employees can bring issues to you with no fear of
repercussions. Show your staff that you have an open ear for your team members, and that you’re not all talk
– that you will, in fact, follow up and take care of their concerns. Did you promise your colleague Michael
an intern to help him with his bookkeeping? Follow up, and be the kind of boss whose word can be trusted.

Prepared by:
JAYMAR KEVIN A. PADAYAO
MAED-EDM