Supplements and facilities are distinguished; Relation to salaries and wages

Moreover, before the value of facilities can be deducted from the employees’ wages, the following requisites must all be attendant: first, proof must be shown that such facilities are customarily furnished by the trade; second, the provision of deductible facilities must be voluntarily accepted in writing by the employee; and finally, facilities must be charged at reasonable value.[20] Mere availment is not sufficient to allow deductions from employees’ wages.[21]

These requirements, however, have not been met in this case. SLL failed to present any company policy or guideline showing that provisions for meals and lodging were part of the employee’s salaries. It also failed to provide proof of the employees’ written authorization, much less show how they arrived at their valuations.  At any rate, it is not even clear whether private respondents actually enjoyed said facilities.

         The Court, at this point, makes a distinction between “facilities” and “supplements.”  It is of the view that the food and lodging, or the electricity and water allegedly consumed by private respondents in this case were not facilities but supplements. In the case of Atok-Big Wedge Assn. v. Atok-Big Wedge Co.,[22] the two terms were distinguished from one another in this wise:

“Supplements,” therefore, constitute extra remuneration or special privileges or benefits given to or received by the laborers over and above their ordinary earnings or wages. “Facilities,” on the other hand, are items of expense necessary for the laborer’s and his family’s existence and subsistence so that by express provision of law (Sec. 2[g]), they form part of the wage and when furnished by the employer are deductible therefrom, since if they are not so furnished, the laborer would spend and pay for them just the same.

In short, the benefit or privilege given to the employee which constitutes an extra remuneration above and over his basic or ordinary earning or wage is supplement; and when said benefit or privilege is part of the laborers’ basic wages, it is a facility. The distinction lies not so much in the kind of benefit or item (food, lodging, bonus or sick leave) given, but in the purpose for which it is given.[23] In the case at bench, the items provided were given freely by SLL for the purpose of maintaining the efficiency and health of its workers while they were working at their respective projects.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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