Willful Disobedience: Just Cause in Employment Termination

Article 297(a) of the Labor Code covers two just causes, serious misconduct and willful disobedience (the former ground is discussed in a separate post). Employees in the Philippines enjoy security of tenure. Under the Labor Code, no employee may be terminated or dismissed, except for just or authorized causes. The employer has the burden of proving, among others, that the facts support the elements of the cause used by the company to justify the employment termination. Each ground has specific elements. It is important, therefore, for management, or at least the HR staff, to be familiar with these factors. 

Just causes:
* 1. Serious misconduct
* 2. Willful disobedience or insubordination
* 3. Gross and habitual neglect of duties
* 4. Fraud or willful breach of trust
* 5. Loss of trust and confidence
* 6. Commission of a crime or offense
* 7. Analogous causes 
Authorized causes:
* 1. Installation of labor-saving devices
* 2. Redundancy
* 3. Retrenchment or downsizing
* 4. Closure or Cessation of Operation
* 5. Disease 

Also: Due Process in termination cases

For willful disobedience to be considered as a valid ground for termination, the following must be present:

  • 1. There must be disobedience or insubordination;
  • 2. The disobedience or insubordination must be willful or intentional characterized by a wrongful and perverse attitude;
  • 3. The order violated must be reasonable, lawful, and made known to the employee; and
  • 4. The order must pertain to the duties which he has been engaged to discharge.

Insubordination is the refusal to obey some order, which a superior is entitled to give and have obeyed. It is a willful or intentional disregard of the lawful and reasonable instructions of the employer. [DO 147-15; See Framework of employment termination]

Atty.Fred

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