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G.R. No. 193493 – 698 SCRA 485 – Labor Law – Social Legislation – SSS Claims
Labor Standards – Hours of Work – Employer-Employee Relations – Four-Fold Test’ Control Test
Jaime Fulo had been working in a farm owned by Jaime Gapayao since 1983. In November 1997, Jaime Fulo was electrocuted while working in the said farm. Jaime Fulo died. Thereafter, Rosario Fulo, the widow of Jaime Fulo, filed a claim for death benefits before the SSS (Social Security System). It turned out however that Jaime Fulo was never registered with the SSS. Eventually, SSS ordered Gapayao, as the employer, to pay the SSS contributions due with penalty.
Gapayao averred he cannot be made liable to pay the SSS contributions because according to him there was no employer-employee relationship between him and Jaime Fulo. He argued, among others, that Jaime Fulo was not his employee because:
1. he did not work regular hours as he was only called when needed and that Fulo can even look for other jobs elsewhere if he wanted to. In fact, Fulo also worked for some other people;
2. he was only an “extra” in the farm;
3. Gapayao had no control over him (lack of control);
ISSUE: Whether or not Jaime Fulo was an employee of Jaime Gapayao.
HELD: Yes. Fulo was a regular employee and was thus entitled to receive SSS benefits, among others. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals in ruling that it “does not follow that a person who does not observe normal hours of work cannot be deemed an employee.” It is also not material that Gapayao never supervised Fulo.
In this case, the number of hours worked is not material. Gapayao is considered a pakyaw worker. Pakyaw workers are considered regular employees for as long as their employers have control over them. The power of the employer to control the work of the employee is considered the most significant determinant of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. This is the so-called control test and is premised on whether the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control both the end achieved and the manner and means used to achieve that end. It should be remembered that the control test merely calls for the existence of the right to control, and not necessarily the exercise thereof. It is not essential that the employer actually supervises the performance of duties by the employee. It is enough that the former has a right to wield the power.