Neglect of Duty as Ground for Termination

The Labor Code allows an employer to terminate an employee for gross and habitual neglect of duties.  But for neglect of duty to be a valid ground for dismissal, the act complained of must be both GROSS and HABITUAL.

‘Gross negligence’ refers to the lack of care in the performance of an employee’s duties while ‘habitual neglect’ implies a repeated failure to perform one’s duties for a period of time, depending on the circumstances.

A single or isolated act of negligence does not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of the employee.

The Supreme Court maintained this view in a case where the security personnel of a hospital failed to rotate the security cameras at various portions of the hospital when a theft occurred.  The centralized videos failed to capture any footage of the incident because of this security lapse.  The employee in charge of monitoring the hospital videos was terminated but eventually ordered reinstated after filing suit against the employer.  (St. Luke’s Medical Center vs. Estrelito Notario, GR No. 152166, October 20, 2010)

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13 thoughts on “Neglect of Duty as Ground for Termination

  1. Pingback: When is Neglect of Duty a Valid Ground for Termination? | HR Practitioner's Guide

  2. edna

    Atty. How about for a Sales Manager, she failed to meet her monthly target since January 2011 up to present and company is getting impatient because the branch is really affected. She asked for additional 4 mons to prove her worth and was granted given that the variance should also be achieve. What If after 4 months di pa rin nya na achieve can she be terminated? please advise. thanks

    1. Atty. Post author

      Edna: Failure to meet sales quota may constitute gross inefficiency for as long as the following conditions are present:

      (1) the employer must set clear performance or efficiency standards which are reasonable and not arbitrary;
      (2) the employer must state clearly that particular performance ratings can lead to dismissal;
      (3) the particular penalties for specific levels of performance should be proportionate to the acts or negligence of the employee;
      (4) the employee must be given a reasonable period to improve on his performance, or to make the necessary adjustment and self-improvement.

      Of course, due process requirements apply here. I hope this helps.

  3. VA.G

    Good day Atty. Florido, is neglect of duty applies also in Supervisor if he is not performing his duties, violated company ethics policy, can not institute a good harmony among the team members, didn’t do anything to solve a faction with the grp, always evade important technical call. for once we’ve submitted a letter of petition to our HR but seems they are not acting on it.

    1. Atty. Post author

      VA.G: The same grounds for termination apply to all employees but the thing to remember is that the power to terminate lies in the employer (business owner or company). Discipline is one of the management prerogatives that no one else can interfere with, and it includes the decision on when to discipline, who to discipline and the sanctions for discipline. You can raise the violations of a superior employee at work and hope that it is acted upon. Try pointing out the economic disadvantages of the employee’s misconduct and maybe higher management will listen.

  4. Denise

    hi, i have been an employee with my current company for 2 years already. within that two years, i have experienced a great amount of emotional stress and demoralization. my supervisor would tell others that i am not as good as my other officemate, threatens me of losing my job, and unofficially transferred me from one department to another (3 depts)

    despite all these i continued to work and able to complete tasks.. i have minor (i mean really minor) mistakes but that supervisor will always escalate such to the top management, in turn, i appear as if i am a stupid employee.

    right now i am being accused of neglect of duty for not being able to attend a meeting intended for my project. truth is, i called 4 hours before the meeting to tell them to move the meeting an hour later since i have other scheduled task.

    unfortunately, my notification was not cascaded to those who will attend. now they again escalated this to top management.

    in short, i really feel that this particular supervisor and his close friends are really waiting for me to commit mistakes wether minor or major so they may have the opportunity to once again report me to top management and be faced with unfair accusations.

    mind you, the company never lost any business profit from my job.. in fact, i have been continuously contributing.

    i cannot resign yet as i am a single mother who feeds 4 kids and send them all to school.. i could not find another job that would offer me a package that would support my expenses..

    i need legal advise as i have suffered alot of mental and emotional stress already but still continued to work.

    pls let me know if there’s any legal action that i can do.. i am broke right now but i think i already am emotionally and mentally abused by the daily worry of losing my job because someone’s waiting for me to commit a mistake.

    HELP… PLEASE

    1. Atty. Post author

      Denise: Have you been given a show-cause memo to explain your failure to attend that meeting? If so, then take that opportunity to explain your situation fully including your observation that you are unreasonably being singled out for minor issues by your immediate supervisor. If there is a grievance procedure available in your office, I also suggest finding out how you can safely air your sentiments to top management without offending your supervisor. You may also state the same circumstances that you mentioned in your query to remind your company about your past performance and the stress that your supervisor is causing you. If you feel aggrieved by the outcome of the administrative complaint against you, write top management one more time and present your situation to give them a chance to see what’s happening. Always take the opportunity to explain your side, both in writing and verbally.

      1. DENISE

        hi attorney, thank you for responding.. to update you, they did not gave me a chance to explain my side first, instead, they already escalated the issue to top management leaving me looking as if what happened was intentional. Top management did not responded, and no one, NO ONE talked to me about it – 3 weeks have passed already.

        and guess what.. just this week, one of those who would single me out shouted at me. The company will undergo audit that day and he found out that some files that are important were not available — mind you, this is actually not under my task.

        here’s the story in a summarized manner:

        i handle a project called career development program, it involves recruiting fresh grads from universities — this is a company project and no one handles it 00 the company asked me to head it and just make it happen — no JD, no official process, no turn over, no discussion re: expectations.. in short, just make it happen.

        so this is the process: i partner with universities and participate in job fairs my goal is to secure a graduate’s list and hand it over to the recruitment team.

        after that, recruitment team will do their job – tests, interviews and completion of required docs in coordination with the HR department

        and then they give me the list of students who qualified and hired. and then i start facilitating the training.

        i handled this for two years.. no problem at all.

        —-> this is what happened this week.

        apparently, the recent batch doesn’t have the required documents of Background investigation which is very important in the audit.

        this supervisor then said: “DENISE!!! where are the CIBI of the recent batch?

        i responded: sir, im not sure what CIBI is.

        supervisor: yung background investigation!!

        i said: sir, please dont shout at me

        he responded: EH GUSTO KO KASI NAIINIS AKO SAYO!!!!!

        i responded: sir, actually i dont think this is a part of my tasks. i think this should be under recruitment or HR

        supervisor: KAHIT NA DAPAT ALAM MO KASI IKAW ANG NAG HANDLE!! ANO GUSTO MO I-SPOONFEED KA PA?? NAPAKA WALANG KWENTANG PROJECT COORDINATOR MO!!! (and he banged the printer, kicked boxes and slammed the door)

        attorney, by the way, this is infront of my other colleagues.

        after 2 minutes, he returned and shouted:

        LUMAYAS KA JAN SA TABLE NA YAN, I U-UPO KO KUNG SINO GUSTO KO, WALA AKO PAKI ALAM KUNG SAAN KA UUPO.

        and he finally left.

        attorney, i would like to file a case against the company already, because this is i think the third major incident that happened to me.

        it is now impossible for me to continue my employment. i am publicly humiliated.

        other instances before include: i received foul language from an officer from top management: GAGO, BOBO, TARANTADO over the phone. (but i relayed this to some friends so they know, actually they kind of overheard from my phone unit because i was being shouted at)

        would GREATLY appreciate your advice, attorney.

      2. Atty. Post author

        Denise: Please check you email for a direct reply to your query.

  5. bnx_1211

    Hi Atty. Florido, I have some concern regarding the memo that had been issued by our Vice President for Operations for Non- Achievement of Sales Quota. I was asked to explain why there should be no disciplinary action should be taken against me. I worked in a publication. I am assigned to sell 3 publications. There are times I was not able to reach my quota for one publication but for 2 publications I was able to meet or even exceeded the given sale quota. I know I have exerted efforts to be able to meet my quotas for the 3 publications but unfortunately there are months that I only meet the quota for 2 publications and at times I reach the quotas for 3 publications. I want to ask if that can be considered as Gross habitual Negligence to perform my duties? There were complaints that are beyond my control but I was I was able to manage in my own expertise. She even served a one day suspension because she consolidated the months that of not reaching quota for a particular publications to the other months of the suceeding years. I find it irrelevant and unjust because quotas and policies each year are changing. What can you say about this. Thank you and more power…

    1. Atty. Post author

      BNX_1211: Generally, it is up to management to determine and set standards of sales performance (quota). Your actual sales will be measured against the standards set in the sales quota policies (KPI in some industries). Only then will it be possible to state with certainty if your situation is one constituting gross and habitual negligence. Normally, an employee falling behind his quota is given a chance to improve for another period where specific performance indicators must be met. A warning is usually issued for the first offense before a second show cause memo may be issued. Thus, there are processes that the employer must follow and which will give you the chance to explain your lapses and appeal for consideration citing the other spectacular performance you just mentioned. But, please bear in mind, that as a sales person, a good sales record is history and is not an excuse for subsequent or current poor sales performance because you are hired precisely to generate revenues. So, I suggest that you go through the necessary processes of explaining in writing and in the admin conference/hearing for the show cause memo, and explain as best as you can why you should be given another chance to prove your self. I hope this helps.

  6. Fe

    Good day to you attorney! I am a newly promoted HR and Admin Manager and still in the process getting the hang of it. but eversince this 2012, there were recent cases of regular employees particularly members of the middle management whose offenses are equivalent to termination in our employee handbook. However, I am getting confused as to which is to really follow because there were prior cases already of regular employees of the company as well and they were not terminated but given last warning. Offenses such as abuse of power and authority, fraud and disrespectful deeds toward senior and peers are a few of this cases. I would surely be grateful if you enlighten me about this. thanks…

    1. Atty. Post author

      Fe: Just follow the procedures for termination– first notice (show cause memo), administrative hearing for them to present their side, thorough investigation and study of the allegations and explanations provided and the justification for the dismissal, then the final notice of termination (if warranted). I recommend Atty. Elvin Villanueva’s book entitled, HR Practitioner’s Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees.

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