BERGONIO v. SOUTH EAST ASIAN AIRLINES, G.R. No. 195227, April 21, 2014

Labor law; Payment of accrued wages despite reversal of decision. An employer, who, despite the Labor Arbiter’s order of reinstatement, did not reinstate the employee during the pendency of the appeal up to the reversal by a higher tribunal may still be held liable for the accrued wages of the employee, i.e., the unpaid salary accruing up to the time the higher tribunal reverses the decision. The rule, therefore, is that an employee may still recover the accrued wages up to and despite the reversal by the higher tribunal. This entitlement of the employee to the accrued wages proceeds from the immediate and self-executory nature of the reinstatement aspect of the LA’s decision.

Exception. By way of exception to the above rule, an employee may be barred from collecting the accrued wages if shown that the delay in enforcing the reinstatement pending appeal was without fault on the part of the employer. To determine whether an employee is thus barred, two tests must be satisfied: (1) actual delay or the fact that the order of reinstatement pending appeal was not executed prior to its reversal; and (2) the delay must not be due to the employer’s unjustified act or omission. Note that under the second test, the delay must be without the employer’s fault. If the delay is due to the employer’s unjustified refusal, the employer may still be required to pay the salaries notwithstanding the reversal of the LA’s decision.

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