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E. Termination of contract of migrant worker

1. DUE PROCESS, APPLICABLE TO MIGRANT WORERS/OFWS

To emphasize, overseas workers, regardless of their classification, are entitled to security of tenure, at least for the period agreed upon in their contracts. This means that they cannot be dismissed before the end of their contract terms without due process. The law recognizes the right of an employer to dismiss employees in warranted cases, but it frowns upon the arbitrary and whimsical exercise of that right when employees are not accorded due process. If they were illegally dismissed, the workers’ right to security of tenure is violated. (Gopio v. Bautista, G.R. No. 205953, 06 June 2018)

The law and jurisprudence guarantee to every employee security of tenure. This textual and the ensuing jurisprudential commitment to the cause and welfare of the working class proceed from the social justice principles of the Constitution that the Court zealously implements out of its concern for those with less in life, Thus, the Court will not hesitate to strike down as invalid any employer act that attempts to undermine workers’ tenurial security. (Ibid.)

2. PHILIPPINE LABOR LAW APPLIES

Indeed, while our Civil Code recognizes that parties may stipulate in their contracts such terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, these terms and conditions must not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or policy. The employment contract between Shomcliffe and Bautista is governed by Philippine labor laws. Hence, the stipulations, clauses, and terms and conditions of the contract must not contravene our labor law provisions. (Ibid.)

Time and again, we have held that a contract of employment is imbued with public interest. The parties are not at liberty to insulate themselves and their relationships from the impact of labor laws and regulations by simply contracting with each other. Also, while a contract is the law between the parties, the provisions of positive law that regulate such contracts are deemed included and shall limit and govern the relations between the parties. (Ibid.)

3. NON-COMPLIANCE WITH PHILIPPINES DUE PROCESS, ILLEGAL DISMISSAL

In sum, there being no showing of any clear, valid, and legal cause for the termination of Bautista’s employment and that he was not afforded due process, the law considers the matter a case of illegal dismissal for which Bautista is entitled to indemnity. We uphold the Labor Arbiter’s award of indemnity equivalent to Bautista’s salaries for the unexpired term of his employment contract, and damages. (Ibid.)

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