Petitioner Nito Enterprises hired Capili as an apprentice machinist under an apprenticeship agreement for six months for a daily wage, which was 75% of applicable minimum wage. However, shortly 2 months after he started work, Capili was asked to resign for the reason that he had been causing accidents, that he has been doing certain things beyond the scope of his duty, and that he had even injured himself in handling one of the machines, to the financial prejudice of the company as his medication would be shouldered by Nito Enterprises.
Capili later filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, which the Labor Arbiter dismissed. This decision was reversed by the NLRC, holding that Capili was a regular employee. With this, Nito came to the Supreme Court. Nito Enterprises assails the NLRC decision on the ground that no apprenticeship program had yet been filed and approved at the time the agreement was executed.
Is Capili a regular employee or an apprentice?
Capili is a regular employee. Apprenticeship needs DOLE’s prior approval, or apprentice becomes regular employee.
Petitioner did not comply with the requirements of the law. It is mandated that apprenticeship agreements entered into by the employer and apprentice shall be entered only in accordance with the apprenticeship program duly approved by the Minister of Labor and Employment.
Prior approval by the Department of Labor and Employment of the proposed apprenticeship program is, therefore, a condition sine quo non before an apprenticeship agreement can be validly entered into.
The act of filing the proposed apprenticeship program with the Department of Labor and Employment is a preliminary step towards its final approval and does not instantaneously give rise to an employer-apprentice relationship.
Hence, since the apprenticeship agreement between petitioner and private respondent has no force and effect in the absence of a valid apprenticeship program duly approved by the DOLE, private respondent’s assertion that he was hired not as an apprentice but as a delivery boy (“kargador” or “pahinante”) deserves credence. He should rightly be considered as a regular employee of petitioner as defined by Article 280 of the Labor Code and pursuant to the constitutional mandate to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.
Terrence Anton T. Callao