Eleveted, night view of Makati, the business district of Metro Manila.

In brief

As a protective measure against the COVID-19 virus and in line with the directive of the Philippine President to all government offices to issue guidelines on the conduct of proceedings during the time of public health emergency, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) promulgated En Banc Resolution No. 03-20 (Series of 2020), or the “Interim Amendments to the 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure, as amended.”


Contents

Resolution No. 03-20 will take effect on 18 August 2020.

1. Mandatory Conciliation and Mediation Conferences

The conduct of Mandatory Conciliation and Mediation Conferences has been suspended, unless otherwise set by the handling Labor Arbiter in his/her discretion.

Any conciliation-mediation conference, as far as feasible, shall be done through videoconferencing or other electronic means. If any of the parties has no access to technology for electronic hearings, the NLRC may provide a hearing room and laptop/tablet for their use.

The Labor Arbiter shall exert all efforts towards the amicable settlement of the case.

2. Filing of Position Papers and Settlement Negotiations

The simultaneous filing of position papers has been suspended. Within two (2) days from receipt of the complaint or amended complaint, the Labor Arbiter shall issue summons upon the respondent. Within five (5) days from receipt of the return of summons, the Labor Arbiter shall issue an Order directing the submission of position papers within fifteen (15) calendar days from receipt thereof, through registered mail or authorized private courier.

The complainant, within five (5) days from receipt of the Order to file position paper, or the respondent, within five (5) days from receipt of the summons, may file a motion to set the case for mandatory conciliation and mediation conference for possible settlement. The motion should contain the terms and conditions of the settlement proposal, including the amount being offered. Within three (3) days from receipt of the motion, the other party shall file his/her response and counter proposal.

The Labor Arbiter shall then determine the necessity of setting the case for mandatory conciliation and mediation conference, and correspondingly issue the notice of conference. If no such notice is received by the parties, they shall proceed to file their respective position papers within the period set in the Order to file position paper.

3. Amicable Settlement

Should the parties agree to settle the case amicably, they should submit a notarized Compromise Agreement or a Quitclaim/Waiver/Release through personal service, registered mail, or private courier.

Conclusion

Employers should comply with the adjusted periods provided under the pertinent rules and regulations, and ensure that the filing of documents is done in a timely manner. Specifically, due to the suspension of conciliation and mediation conferences in NLRC proceedings, employers are advised to immediately prepare their position paper, including supporting documents, affidavits and technical requirements (e.g., verification document, authorization of signatory to verification document), once summons has been received. Employers are also advised to be alert on receipt of summons. If warranted, employers may explore amicable settlement of labor cases. For this purpose, employers should be prepared to propose terms and conditions of a possible settlement. Employers should also be ready to attend any conciliation-mediation conference through videoconferencing or other electronic means.

Employers are advised to continue to keep abreast of the developments relating to the procedures adopted by the NLRC and the DOLE during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

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