ARE PART-TIME FACULTY MEMBERS ENTITLED TO BE PAID FOR UNWORKED DAY ON ACCOUNT OF A FORTUITOUS EVENT?

By Jemuel D. Caburian

 

            On September 18, 2014, the political science students of University of Pangasinan had their educational tour in certain places in Manila --- Malacanan Museum, Senate, Intramuros, Supreme Court, among others. Being their adviser, I was with them during the tour. At about 3:00 AM of the following day (September, 19, 2014), I arrived in my residence in Lingayen, Pangasinan. I woke up and took a bath after a two-hour sleep. I needed to prepare and pack things because I will be attending the meeting set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – Region 1. I was the one assigned by our local union to attend the same in San Fernando, La Union. Said meeting will start at 9:30 AM. From Lingayen to San Fernando, it would take around two-hour travel time.

 

            It was raining at that very early morning of September 19. While taking my breakfast at around 6:30 AM, it was announced in a local radio station that typhoon Mario was already in Region 1. A friend informed me through text that a number of municipalities and cities in the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, and Ilocos were already placed under state of calamity. Classes in all levels were suspended in those local government units concerned. It is because of such “fortuitous event” that made me decide not to proceed anymore to San Fernando to attend the meeting.

 

            A fortuitous event is an event which cannot be foreseen, or which though foreseen, is inevitable (Art. 1174, Civil Code). In law, it is also referred to as an act of God that refers to an event which is absolutely independent of human intervention. According to Khan (2007), an act of God         is a natural disaster the occurrence of which cannot be foreseen or prevented, such as earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, floods, etc. The general rule under the same provision of the Civil Code (Art. 1174) is that no person shall be liable for a fortuitous event.

 

            In a situation where classes are suspended due to typhoon, one issue that may arise is whether faculty members are entitled to be paid for unworked “no class day.” There is no problem with the regular or tenured faculty members because they are entitled to unworked “no class day” on account of typhoons, or any other calamities. The problem, however, lies with faculty members who are part-timers, or those who are paid on hourly basis.

 


 

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          In the case of Jose Rizal College vs. NLRC and the National Alliance of Teachers/Office Workers (NATOW) [G.R. No. 65482, 01 December 1987], the Supreme Court opined that part-time faculty members are entitled to be paid for unworked “no class day” on account of calamities. Though the issue in the case of Jose Rizal College is “whether or not faculty members paid by the lecture hour are entitled to unworked special holiday pay”, the decision of the Supreme Court in that case answers the query in this paper --- “Are part time faculty members entitled to be paid for unworked day on account of force majeure?” Thus:

    

“It is readily apparent that the declared purpose of the holiday pay which is the prevention of diminution of the monthly income of the employees on account of work interruptions is defeated when a regular class day is cancelled on account of a special public holiday and class hours are held on another working day to make up for time lost in the school calendar. Otherwise stated, the faculty member, although forced to take a rest, does not earn what he should earn on that day. Be it noted that when a special public holiday is declared, the faculty member paid by the hour is deprived of expected income, and it does not matter that the school calendar is extended in view of the days or hours lost, for their income that could be earned from other sources is lost during the extended days. Similarly, when classes are called off or shortened on account of typhoons, floods, rallies, and the like, these faculty members must likewise be paid, whether or not extensions are ordered. xxx.” (emphasis supplied)               

 

            Notwithstanding, the case of Jose Rizal College also resolved the issue whether or not faculty members paid by the lecture hour are entitled to unworked regular holiday pay including regular semestral, Christmas and Holy Week. The Supreme Court commented on this issue:

 

“Regular holidays specified as such by law are known to both school and faculty members as “no class day”; certainly the latter do not expect payment for said unworked days, and this was clearly in their minds when they entered into the teaching contracts.”