Question:

Pablo was a farm-hand in a plantation owned by ABC & Co., working approximately 6 days a week for a good 15 years. Upon Pablo’s death, his widow filed a claim for burial grant and pension benefits with the Social Security System (SSS). The claim was denied on the ground that Pablo had not been a registered member-employee. Pablo’s widow filed a petition before the SSS asking that ABC & Co. be directed to pay the premium contributions of Pablo and that his name be reported for SSS coverage. ABC & Co. countered that Pablo was hired to plow, harrow and burrow, using his own carabao and other implements and following his own schedule of work hours, without any supervision from the company. If proven, would this factual setting advanced by ABC & Co. be a valid defense against the petition?

(Bar Examination in Labor Law, 2003)

Suggested Answer:

It is not a valid defense, for Pablo could be considered an employee of ABC & Co. The elements of hiring, payment of wages, power to dismiss and power to control are presumed from the fact that Pablo is working 6 days a week, for 15 years now. Pablo’s use of his plow, harrow, burrow, carabao and other implements and his having his own schedule of work hours without any supervision from the company do not erase the element of control on the part of ABC & Co. Under the “control test”, it is enough that the employer’s right to control exists. It is not necessary that the same be exercised by the employer.

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