(Question B.16, Labor Law, 2019 Bar Exam)
W Ship Management, Inc. hired Seafarer G as bosun in its vessel under the terms of the 2010 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration – Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC).
On his sixth (6th) month on board, Seafarer G fell ill while working. In particular, he complained of stomach pain, general weakness, and fresh blood in his stool. When his illness persisted, he was medically repatriated on January 15, 2018. On the same day, Seafarer G submitted himself to a post-employment medical examination, wherein he was referred for further treatment. As of September 30, 2018, Seafarer G has yet to be issued any fit-to-work certification by the company-designated physician, much less a final and definite assessment of his actual condition. Since Seafarer G still felt unwell, he sought an opinion from a doctor of his choice who later issued an independent assessment stating that he was totally and permanently disabled due to his illness sustained during work.
Seafarer G then proceeded to file a claim for total and permanent disability compensation. The company asserts that the claim should be dismissed due to prematurity since Seafarer g failed to first settle the matter through the third-doctor conflict resolution procedure as provided under the 2010 POEA-SEC.
(a) What is the third-doctor conflict resolution procedure under the 2010 POEA-SEC? Explain. (2%)
(b) Will Seafarer G’s claim for total and permanent disability benefits prosper despite his failure to first settle the matter through the third-doctor conflict resolution procedure? Explain. (3%)
(c) Assuming that Seafarer G failed to submit himself to a post-employment medical examination within three (3) working days from his return, what is the consequence thereof to his claim? Explain. (2%)
(a) The third-doctor conflict resolution procedure refers to the steps that the seafarer has to undergo upon disembarkation to be entitled to compensation for work-related illness or injury.
First, the seafarer shall submit himself to a post-employment medical examination by a company-designated physician within three working days upon his return.
Second, the seafarer may appoint his own physician who shall make a separate medical examination.
Third, if the seafarer-appointed physician disagrees with the assessment, a third doctor may be agreed jointly between the employer and the seafarer. The third doctor’s decision shall be final and binding on both parties.
(b) Yes. Answer
Under labor law jurisprudence, by way of exception to the third-doctor conflict resolution, a seafarer is exempt from compliance if the company-designated physician came up with an assessment as to his fitness or unfitness to work before the expiration of the 240-day periods. Rule
In the case at bar, 258 calendar days have lapsed from disembarkation on 15 January 2018 to the date when the seafarer sought a medical examination with his preferred physician. He is exempt from compliance to the third-doctor conflict resolution. Apply
Thus, Seafarer G’s claim for total and permanent disability benefits will prosper despite his failure to first settle the matter through the third-doctor conflict resolution procedure. Conclusion
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
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