Zero Tolerance refers to a behavioral policy of the management. It is the practice of not tolerating undesirable or unprofessional behavior in the workplace by imposing severe penalties for violating the company rules and regulations.
Zero Tolerance Policies establish specific consequences or a range of implications for a particular infraction coupled with a consistent application of that consequence. It is usually found in the employer’s Code of Conduct or the Company’s Handbook of Rules.
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Telephilippines: Section V.B.4 Code of Conduct and Zero Tolerance Policy
In the case of Jacolbe, Telephilippines terminated Jacolbe for violating Section V.B.4 of Telephilippines’ Code of Conduct and Zero Tolerance Policy. Jacolbe was held to be grossly inefficient for not being able to meet the 7-minute Average Handling Time (AHT) of Telephilippines’ customers and for failing to attain work goals or work quotas for 62 straight weeks. The Court held that this gross inefficiency is analogous to gross and habitual neglect of duty under Article 297 (e) in relation to Article 297 (b) of the Labor Code and thus is a valid cause for termination of an employee.
The Court also acknowledged the validity of the Zero Tolerance Policies by echoing its ruling in San Miguel Corporation v. NLRC, holding that an employer is entitled to prescribe reasonable work standards, rules, and regulations necessary for the conduct of its business. This management prerogative of requiring standards may be availed of so long as they are exercised in good faith to advance the employer’s interest.
Uy V. Convergys: "Program Zero Tolerance Policy"
In the case of Uy v. Convergys, the Court upheld the validity of the immediate removal of Uy from a client’s account because of the “Program Zero Tolerance Policy” under its Code of Conduct. The Court held that Convergys validly exercised its management prerogative when instead of immediately dismissing Uy for having committed an infraction under the “Program Zero Tolerance Policy” in its Code of Conduct. Uy was removed from the account upon the request of the client. While the administrative investigation was ongoing, Convergys then required him to undergo the process of re-profiling for transfer to its other programs. The Court held that the said transfer is valid and does not constitute illegal termination or constructive dismissal.
Termination in Sec 5.1 of D.O No. 147-15 by DOLE
Section 297 of the Labor Code (renumbered) covers terminating an employee because of the Zero Tolerance Policy. Thus, to legally terminate the employee, the employer should follow the procedure for termination prescribed in Sec 5.1 of D.O. No. 147-15 by the DOLE:
The employer terminating an employee based on a just cause must provide two written notices served on the employee. The first written notice must contain:
- Specific cause provided under Art. 297 of the Labor Code and company policies, if any
- A Detailed narration of facts and circumstances evidencing the charge against the employee; and
- A directive giving the employee a chance to explain within a reasonable period of at least five days.
2. After serving the first notice, the employer should afford the employee ample opportunity to be heard and to defend his or herself, or with the assistance of his representative if he/she desires.
- Ample opportunity refers to a meaningful verbal or written opportunity to answer the charges against him/her and to submit proof of his/her defense through a hearing, conference, or some other fair and reasonable way.
- A formal hearing is not mandatory. Only when the employee requests it in writing or when considered to be a company policy.
3. If termination is justified, the employer shall serve the employee a written notice of termination stating that 1) all circumstances involving the charge against the employee have been considered and 2) the grounds have been established to justify the termination of their employment.
These notices shall be served personally to the employee or to the employee’s last known address.
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