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Question A10

X.

(Question X, Labor Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Nonato had been continuously employed and deployed as a seaman who performed services that were necessary and desirable to the business of N-Train Shipping, through its local agent, Narita Maritime Services (Agency), in accordance with the 2010 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (2010 POEA-SEC). Nonato’s last contract (for five months) expired on November 15, 2016. Nonato was then repatriated due to a “finished contract.” He immediately reported to the Agency and complained that he had been experiencing dizziness, weakness, and difficulty in breathing. The Agency referred him to Dr. Neri, who examined, treated, and prescribed him with medications. After a few months of treatment and consultations, Nonato was declared fit to resume work as a seaman. Nonato went back to the Agency to ask for re-deployment but the Agency rejected his application. Nonato filed an illegal dismissal case against the Agency and its principal, with a claim for total disability benefits based on the ailments that he developed on board N-Train Shipping vessels. The claim was based on the certification of his own physician, Dr. Nunez, that he was unfit for sea duties because of his hypertension and diabetes.

a) Was Nonato a regular employee of N-Train Shipping? (2.5%)

b) Can Nonato successfully claim disability benefits against N-Train Shipping and its agent Narita Maritime Services? (2.5%)

Suggested Answer:

(a) No. Answer

Under labor law jurisprudence, seafarers are considered as contractual employees, and not regular employees. Their employment is governed by the contracts they sign every time they are rehired and their employment is terminated when the contract expires. Their employment is contractually fixed for a certain period of time. Rule

In the case at bar, Nonato had been continuously employed and deployed as a seaman or seafarer by N-Train Shipping. While he may be performing services that were necessary and desirable to the business of N-Train Shipping, through its local agent, Narita Maritime Services (Agency), this does not make him a regular employee as the status of seafarers as contractual employees has already been settled by jurisprudence. Apply

Thus, Nonato was not a regular employee of N-Train Shipping. Conclusion

(b) No. Answer

Under the POEA Standard Employment Contract, there are two requisites for compensation for work-related injury illness, to wit: (a) it is work-related, and (b) it is during the term of the contract. Further, upon disembarking, the seafarer has to undergo a medical examination by the company-designated physician. Thereafter, the seafarer has the right to consult his own physician. If a doctor appointed by the seafarer 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. Rule

In the case at bar, there is no indication that the hypertension and diabetes were work-related, nor was there any showing that it was acquired or it was aggravated during the term of the contract. In fact, he was declared fit to resume work as a seaman. Moreover, if the seafarer-appointed physician contested the findings of the company-designated physician, a third doctor jointly agreed between Nonato and his employer should have been made. Unfortunately, this was not done. Apply

Thus, Nonato cannot successfully claim disability benefits against N-Train Shipping and its agent Narita Maritime Services. 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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