IN what to be the first case involving an online commerce employer-worker relationship wherein the latter emerged victorious, the Supreme Court (SC) has ordered a big online shopping company to reinstate five dismissed five contractual delivery riders and pay their back wages.
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta was all praises for the favorable ruling saying this would set a good precedent and to PAO lawyers that attended to the complainants – delivery riders Chrisden Ditiangkin, Hendrix Molines, Harvey Juanio, Joselito Verde and Brian Anthony Nabong – when they elevated their case before the high court against online shopping site Lazada.
“We are so proud of our PAO lawyers who did their best in representing the petitioners who defended the delivery riders up to the Supreme Court after losing before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and Court of Appeals (CA).”
The SC ruled in favor of the delivery riders on the ground that they were directly employed by respondent Lazada based on the contract they signed and were receiving their salaries from Lazada of P1,200 per day of service since 2016.
Also, the high tribunal gave more weight to the fact that the online shopping company had the power to dismiss the delivery riders being their workers.
Records showed that Lazada removed the five riders from their usual routes and were not given any more work in 2017.
“If reinstatement is no longer feasible, they should be given separation pay and full back wages. Petitioners are likewise entitled to the payment of attorney’s fees considering that they were forced to litigate,” the decision said.
Lazada and its executive-respondents, namely, Allan Ancheta, Richard Delantar and Jade Andrade, claimed that there was no employer-employee relationship between them as they were independent contractors, a claim the former failed to substantiate.
Contrary to the respondents’ assertions, the high court said the petitioners both the four-fold and economic dependence tests, the high tribunal said.
“First, the petitioners are directly employed by respondent Lazada. Second, they received their salaries from Lazada. Third, it (Lazada) has the power to dismiss the delivery riders and lastly, Lazada has the power to control over the means and methods of the performance of the petitioners’ work,” it added.
The PAO chief has reminded employers that “even contractual employees are protected under the fundamental right of workers to a regular job.
“You must take care of your employees or workers because they are your immediate partners that help your businesses grow, take care of them and they will surely be more dedicated to their job,” Atty. Rueda-Acosta said.