NELSON V. BEGINO, GENER DEL VALLE, MONINA A VILA-LLORIN AND MA. CRISTINA SUMAYAO, Petitioners, vs. ABS-CBN CORPORATION (FORMERLY, ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION) AND AMALIA VILLAFUERTE, Respondents.
G.R. No. 199166, 20 April 2015.
Respondent ABS-CBN, through Respondent Villafuerte, engaged the services of Petitioners as cameramen, editors or reporters for TV Broadcasting. Petitioners signed regularly renewed Talent Contracts (3 months - 1 year) and Project Assignment Forms which detailed the duration, budget and daily technical requirements of a particular project. Petitioners were tasked with coverage of news items for subsequent daily airings in Respondents’ TV Patrol Bicol Program.
The Talent Contract has an exclusivity clause and provides that nothing therein shall be deemed or construed to establish an employer-employee relationship between the parties.
Petitioners filed against Respondents a complaint for regularization before the NLRC's Arbitration branch.
In support of their complaint, Petitioners claimed that they worked under the direct control of Respondent Villafuerte - they were mandated to wear company IDs, they were provided the necessary equipment, they were informed about the news to be covered the following day, and they were bound by the company’s policy on attendance and punctuality.
Respondents countered that, pursuant to their Talent Contracts and Project Assignment Forms, Petitioners were hired as talents to act as reporters, editors and/or cameramen. Respondents further claimed they never imposed control as to how Petitioners discharged their duties. At most, they were briefed regarding the general requirements of the project to be executed.
While the case was pending, Petitioners contracts were terminated, prompting the latter to file a second complaint for illegal dismissal.
The Arbitration Branch ruled that Petitioners were regular employees, and ordered Respondents to reinstate the Petitioners.
The NLRC affirmed the ruling, but the CA overturned the decision.
ISSUE: W/N Petitioners are regular employees of Respondents.
Of the criteria to determine whether there is an employer-employee relationship, the so-called "control test" is generally regarded as the most crucial and determinative indicator of the said relationship.
Under this test, an employer-employee relationship is said to exist where the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control not only the end result but also the manner and means utilized to achieve the same.
Notwithstanding the nomenclature of their Talent Contracts and/or Project Assignment Forms and the terms and condition embodied therein, petitioners are regular employees of ABS-CBN.
As cameramen, editors and reporters, it appears that Petitioners were subject to the control and supervision of Respondents which provided them with the equipment essential for the discharge of their functions. The exclusivity clause and prohibitions in their Talent Contract were likewise indicative of Respondents' control over them, however obliquely worded.
Also,the presumption is that when the work done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and when the worker does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor.