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Using the company payroll for personal gain breaches the trust and confidence bestowed upon an accountant, which can be a ground for a valid dismissal.

Thus held the Supreme Courtโ€™s Second Division in a Resolution denying the appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by Claudia Clemeรฑa Varquez. The petition challenged the rulings of the Court of Appeals which had reversed the findings of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) declaring Vasquez to have been legally dismissed from service by her employer, Rider Levett Bucknall, Phils. Inc. (RLBPI).

Among the grounds for dismissal under Article 297 of the Labor Code is fraud or willful breach of trust bestowed by the employer as the employerโ€™s representative.

To justify a dismissal based on loss of trust and confidence, the Court held that two conditions must be met: (1) the employee concerned must be holding a position of trust and confidence; and (2) there must be an act that would justify the loss of trust and confidence.

In the present case, the Court found that both conditions were met. As RLBPI Chief Accountant and Finance Manager, Varquez enjoyed a substantial degree of trust and confidence reposed in her by RLBPI, which were lost due to various acts done by Varquez, including maintaining her personal account in the payroll.

โ€œThe payroll registry should strictly reflect only the identities of the authorized employees and their corresponding salaries for a specific period,โ€ stressed the Court, finding it highly unusual for Varquezโ€™s personal account to be incorporated into the payroll listing, as it is being used as the deposit account for the PYF or the โ€œpaluwagan funds.โ€ The inclusion of such account in the payroll is thus not justified, said the Court.

This, among other acts, strongly indicate that Varquez breached the trust and confidence bestowed upon her by RLBPI, justifying her dismissal.

However, while there were just causes for Varquezโ€™s dismissal, the procedural due process requirements were not fully met by RLBPI for failing to fully apprise Varquez regarding the โ€œunreconciled differencesโ€ cited in the audit report. RLBPI was consequently ordered to pay Varquez PhP30,000 in nominal damages. via Supreme Court

Read more at https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/sc-affirms-dismissal-of…/. Read G.R. No. 259776 (Varquez v. Rider Levett Buknall, Phils. Inc., April 24, 2023) in full at https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/259776-claudia-clemena…/.