The decision of the CA's Special Fourteenth Division dated Feb. 20 written by Associate Justice Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles upheld the Sept. 30, 2015 decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) that the private respondents are regular employees. Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Gabriel T. Robeniol concurred in the ruling.
"The four fold test to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship i.e. the selection and engagement of the employee;the payment of wages; the power of dismissal; and the power to control the employee's conduct was duly established in this case," the appellate court said in its ruling.
The talents were assigned to different programs and were paid talent fees from 2006 to 2013 and held positions as writers, segment producers, production assistants, researchers among others.
The case was prompted by a revenue regulation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in compliance with which GMA required its talents on April 14, 2014 to register with the BIR as independent contractors and issue receipts for the talent fees being paid to them.
The talents claimed they were regular employees and not independent contractors and filed a complaint against GMA before the labor arbiter. GMA, however, insisted that there is no employer-employee relationship between the network and its talents.
"(T)he presumption is that when the work is done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor. The Court will peruse beyond any such agreement to examine the facts that typify the parties' actual relationship," the appellate court said in ruling against GMA.