Before you fire workers, think of the pains

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 7, 2020 - 12:00am

I know that many employers are girding themselves now for multiple options to fire workers, be it by lay-offs, retrenchments, redundancies, early retirement or plain firing. Before you pull the trigger, think of the many serious and far-reaching consequences and complications.

I have handled so many cases of illegal dismissals, as a Labor Arbiter in the seventies, as a company lawyer in the nineties, and as a DOLE Undersecretary in 2002 to 2005, as well as a Labor attache from 2005 to 2012. I also handled termination disputes as a pro bono lawyer for illegally dismissed friends and relatives. I can tell you that such cases are not just legal issues. They involve behavioral dimensions and consequences. These are very serious conflicts because they involve means of livelihood. They also involve the honor and dignity of the workers being dismissed, and also the reputation of the employer and his firm.

Beyond the realm of labor laws, and outside the facts of the case, are a myriad of socio-economic implications and consequences. When an employee is dismissed, he loses his self-confidence. He becomes an angry and embittered man. His relationship with spouse and children will be adversely affected. He becomes a loner and sometimes, he is led to depression serious enough to commit murder or suicide. Before the Covid crisis a disgruntled security guard held hostage the entire mall in Greenhills, San Juan City, because of an unattended labor-related issue, leading to his suspension and dismissal

When a worker is dismissed, and he files a case before the NLRC, it is not just to pray for reinstatement and backwages or separation pay. It is a matter of vindicating one's honor and reputation. Because a dismissed worker is looked down as a failure, a burden to family and to society. And so, he fights it out in long , protracted and expensive legal battles. Many arbiters take months even years to decide a simple case of illegal dismissal. Then appeals to the NLRC  too long. It is good that our arbiter-commissioners here in Cebu are now more efficient and expeditious.

But while the case is pending, no income is earned. The children have to stop schooling. Rentals remain unpaid. Or home mortgages may be foreclosed. Medicines will no longer be affordable. Thus it is correctly pointed out that losing one's job is hazardous to one's health. A dismissed worker is irritable, easily provoked to anger, can not sleep well at nights and will suffer deterioration of health issues. It also affects mental and spiritual health, and emotional stability. That is why employers are warned to go slow on firing. The bullet may backfire and ends up hurting the company and its owners themselves.

I am not being unfair to management. There is a right way to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. I wrote two books consisting of a thousand pages each during the lockdown. For management, I wrote “How To Terminate Employment With Honor and Dignity.” For workers, I also wrote, “How To File Cases of Illegal Dismissal With Valor and Reason.” You can email me on where to get them. I have the solution looking for the problem.

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