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NLRC Pantaleon worked concurrently as agent and Acting Unit Manager until he was
G.R. No. 119930 / MAR 12, 1998 / BELLOSILLO, J. / LABOR Control Test / MEEMARCILLA notified by Insular that his services were terminated.
NATURE Special civil action certiorari LA dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the complaint filed by Pantaleon de los Reyes against
PETITIONERS Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. for illegal dismissal and nonpayment of salaries and back
RESPONDENTS NLRC and Pantaleon De Los Reyes wages. (No employer-employee relationship daw)
However, NLRC reversed the LA order and remanded the case for hearing on the merits.
SUMMARY. Pantaleon had an agency contract with Insular where he was authorized to Insular now filed this special civil action for certiorari praying for the annulment of the
solicit for life insurance. They entered into another contract where he was appointed decision of NLRC.
Acting Unit Manager of Insulars office in Cebu. He was dismissed so he filed a complaint Insular: it never had any employer-employee relationship with de los Reyes, this being an
in LA. It was dismissed because it was held that there was no employer-employee rel. SC: express agreement between them in the agency contracts, particularly reinforced by the
Pantaleon was an employee of Insular not because of the agency contract but because of stipulation therein that De los Reyes was allowed discretion to devise ways and means to
the second management contract. Four-fold test applies. fulfill his obligations as agent and would be paid commission fees based on his actual
DOCTRINE. It is axiomatic that the existence of an employer-employee relationship o It further insists that the nature of this work status as described in the contracts
cannot be negated by expressly repudiating it in the management contract and providing had already been squarely resolved by the Court in the earlier case of Insular
therein that the employee is an independent contractor when the terms of the Life Assurance Co., Ltd. v. NLRC and Basiao
agreement clearly show otherwise
FACTS. 1. WON NLRC acted appropriately. YES, records of the case are replete with
Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd had an agency contract with Pantaleon de los Reyes telltale indicators of an existing employer-employee relationship between the
authorizing the latter to solicit for life insurance and annuities for which he would be paid two parties despite written contractual disavowals
compensation in the form of commissions.
o The contract was prepared by Insular in its entirety and De los Reyes merely Lets look at the facts. The first contract is an agency contract BUT the second had
signed his conformity thereto. It contained the stipulation that no employer- conditionalities that indicate an employer-employee relationship. The NLRC therefore was
employee relationship shall be created between the parties and that the agent correct in finding that Pantaleon was an employee of Insular, but this holds true only insofar
shall be free to exercise his own judgment as to time, place and means of as the management contract is concerned.
soliciting insurance.
Insular and Pantaleon then entered into another contract where he was appointed as The existence of an employer-employee relationship cannot be negated by expressly
Acting Unit Manager under its office in Cebu. repudiating it in the management contract and providing therein that the employee is an
o As such, his duties and responsibilities included the recruitment, training, independent contractor when the terms of the agreement clearly show otherwise. For, the
organization and development within his designated territory of a sufficient employment status of a person is defined and prescribed by law and not by what the parties
number of qualified, competent and trustworthy underwriters, and to say it should be. In determining the status of the management contract, the four-fold test
supervise and coordinate the sales efforts of the underwriters in the active on employment has to be applied.
solicitation of new business and in the furtherance of the agencys assigned
goals. (1) Selection and engagement of employee
o It was stated there that the relation of the acting unit manager and/or the
agents of his unit to the company shall be that of independent contractor. If Insular: Pantaleon was never required to go through the pre-employment procedures and
the appointment was terminated for any reason other than for cause, the that the probationary employment status was reserved only to employees of Insular
acting unit manager would be reverted to agent status and assigned to any
unit. SC: under the contract, he was appointed as Acting Unit Manager only upon recommendation
o He was also given production bonus, development allowance and a unit of the District Manager. This indicates that he was hired because of the favorable endorsement
development financing scheme euphemistically termed financial assistance of its duly authorized officer. This can only be based on his performance as agent and so the
consisting of payment to him of a free portion of P300.00 per month and a agency or underwriter phase of the relationship of Pantaleon with Insular was nothing more
validate portion of P1,200.00. While the latter amount was deemed as an than a trial or probationary period for his eventual appointment as Acting Unit Manager.
advance against expected commissions, the former was not and would be
freely given to the unit manager by the company only upon fulfillment by him (2) Payment of Wages
of certain manpower and premium quota requirements. Again, he was
prohibited from working in other life insurance companies or with the
Insular: he compensated strictly on commission basis, the amount of which was totally Pantaleon had organized an office. He had a place and a table at Insulars Cebu office where
dependent on his total output he reported for and worked whenever he was not out in the field.

SC: Managers Contract says otherwise. The performance requirement imposed on Under the managership contract, Pantaleon was obliged to work exclusively for Insular in life
Pantaleonwas applicable quarterly while his entitlement to the free portion (P300) and the insurance solicitation and was imposed premium production quotas. Of course, the acting unit
validated portion (P1,200) was monthly starting on the first month of the twelve (12) months manager could not underwrite other lines of insurance because his Permanent Certificate of
of the appointment. Thus, it has to be admitted that even before the end of the first quarter Authority was for life insurance only and for no other. He was proscribed from accepting a
and prior to the so-called quarterly performance evaluation, Pantaleon was already entitled managerial or supervisory position in any other office including the government without the
to be paid both the free and validated portions of the UDF every month because his written consent of Insular. He could only be promoted to permanent unit manager if he met
production performance could not be determined until after the lapse of the quarter involved. certain requirements and his promotion was recommended by the Insulars District Manager
and Regional Manager and approved by its Division Manager. As Acting Unit Manager, he
This indicates quite clearly that the unit managers quarterly performance had no bearing at performed functions beyond mere solicitation of insurance business for Insular. He exercised
all on his entitlement at least to the free portion of the UDF which for all intents and purposes administrative functions which were necessary and beneficial to the business of INSULAR
comprised the salary regularly paid to him by petitioner. Thus it cannot be validly claimed that LIFE.
the financial assistance consisting of the free portion of the UDF was purely dependent on the
premium production of the agent. Be that as it may, it is worth considering that the payment THUS, Pantaleon is an employee of Insular.
of compensation by way of commission does not militate against the conclusion that he
was an employee of Insular. Under Art. 97 of the Labor Code, wage shall mean however DECISION.
designated, capable of being expressed in terms of money, whether fixed or ascertained on a Petition of Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd., is DENIED and the Decision of the National
time, task, price or commission basis x x x x. Labor Relations Commission dated 3 March 1995 and its Order of 6 April 1996 sustaining it are
AFFIRMED. Let this case be REMANDED to the Labor Arbiter a quo who is directed to hear
(3) Power of dismissal and dispose of this case with deliberate dispatch in light of the views expressed herein.

Insular: its termination of Pantaleon was but an exercise of its inherent right as principal under NOTES.
the contracts Basically yung first contract same as the previous Insular Case na agency contract lang but the
second one about being the Acting Unit Manager is different.
SC: Pantaleon was to exclusively serve Insular. Not doing so was a ground for termination.1

(4) Power of Control

Insular: rules and guidelines in the contract cannot be deemed as an exercise of control as
these were merely directives that fixed the desired result without dictating the means or
method to be employed in attaining it

SC: Pantaleon was required to meet certain manpower and production quotas. Insular
controlled the assignment and removal of soliciting agents to and from Pantaleons unit. 2
Pantaleons duty to collect the companys premiums using company receipts is further
evidence of Insulars control over him.

Insular invoked previous ruling in Insular v NLRC and Basiao. BUT that case is not on all fours
with the case at bar.

Unlike Basiao, Pantaleon was appointed Acting Unit Manager, not agency manager.
There is no evidence that to implement his obligations under the management contract,

1Other causes of Termination: This appointment may likewise be terminated for any of the following causes: x x x 7..7..2. 2 , thus: x x x 7..2. Assignment of Agents: Agents recruited and trained by you shall be attached to your unit unless for
Your entering the service of the government or another life insurance company; 7..7..3. Your accepting a managerial or reasons of Company policy, no such assignment should be made. The Company retains the exclusive right to assign
supervisory position in any firm doing business in the Philippines without the written consent of the Company; new soliciting agents to the unit. It is agreed that the Company may remove or transfer any soliciting agents appointed
and assigned to the said unit x x x x