Dear Atty Duran-Schulze,
May I ask when an Administrative Hearing is needed?
As a general rule, administrative hearing or conference should be held to accord an employee subject to disciplinary action to defend himself.
In employee dismissal cases, the essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard, it is the denial of this that constitutes a violation of due process of law.
It was discussed in the case of Perez v. PT&T (2019), that while a formal hearing or conference is ideal, it is not an absolute, mandatory or exclusive avenue of due process.
Skipper’s United Pacific, Inc. v. Maguad (2006), provides the general rule wherein the Labor Code does not require a formal or trial type proceeding before an erring employee may be dismissed.
Here are the guidelines in hearing requirements:
- There must be “ample opportunity to be heard”, meaning any meaning opportunity (verbal or written) given to the employee to:
- Answer the charges against him and
- Submit evidence in support of his defense, whether in a hearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way.
- A formal hearing or conference becomes mandatory when:
- It is requested by the employee in writing,
- Substantial evidentiary disputes exist,
- A company rule or practice requires it,
- When similar circumstances warrant.
- The “ample opportunity to be heard” standard in the Labor Code prevails over the “hearing or conference” requirement in the implementing rules and regulations.
A formal hearing only becomes mandatory in termination cases when so required under company rules or when the employee requests for it. “To be heard” does not mean verbal argumentation alone inasmuch as one may be heard just as effectively through written explanations, submissions or pleadings. (Yolando Bravo v. Urios College Now Father Saturnino Urios University, 2017, as penned by J. Leonen)
Considering that the cost of a labor dispute can be expensive, even if the situation does require the holding of an administrative hearing, it is recommended to do so to ensure that the employer would have a stronger position in the dismissal or effecting the disciplinary action against the employee.