RE: Certificate of Employment - Labor Advisory No. 6 Series of 2020

Re: Certificate of Employment (COE) Excerpts from Labor Law Made Easy Free Online (pro bono) Consultation edited by Atty. Marvyn Gaerlan

Did you know that a CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT is an employee's RIGHT?

Section 10, Rule XIV, Book V, of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code of the Philippines provides:

“Certification of employment. — A dismissed worker shall be entitled to receive, or request, a certificate from the employer specifying the dates of his engagement and termination of his employment and the type or types of work on which he is employed.”

By analogy, resigned employees are also entitled to Certificate of Employment (COE).

NOTE that a COE is not a clearance. It is not a recommendation or endorsement. It is not a certificate of good moral character or good standing. And it is also not a waiver on the part of the employer of his right to file a claim or legal action against the employee. A COE is simply an employee's service record. Nothing more, nothing less. Hence, there can be no valid reason why an employer would refuse to issue a COE to his employee. It follows, however, that an employer has the right to refuse to issue a COE if the person requesting for a COE is/was not his/her employee at present or in the past.

The Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code provides:

"SECTION 6. Certification of employment. — A dismissed worker shall be entitled to receive, on request, a certificate from the employer specifying the dates of his engagement and termination of his employment and the type or types of work on which he is employed."

(Rule XXIII, Book V, of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, as amended by Department Order No. 9 Series of 1997; which has not been superseded by Department Order No. 40-03 Series of 2003 [because it is not inconsistent with the latter], as clarified by a DOLE Labor Advisory dated May 20, 2003, which practically removed Rule XXIII to Book VI on Termination of Employment).

Note that domestic workers are entitled to a Certificate of Employment under the Batas Kasambahay. Hence, other workers should also be equally entitled.

The Department of Labor and Employment has issued Labor Advisory No. 6 Series of 2020 dated 31 January 2020. Under the said advisory, a COE is defined as "a certificate from the employer specifying the dates of an employee's engagement and the termination of his/her employment and the type or types of work in which he/she is employed. For purposes of the said advisory, an employee whose employment is not yet terminated may also ask for a Certificate of Employment."

Said labor advisory also clearly stated that "[t]he employer shall issue a certificate of employment within three (3) days from the time of the request by the employee." Moreover, it mentions that [a]ny Issue or claim dispute arising out or relating to the payment of final pay, or issuance of certificate of employment, shall be filed before the nearest DOLE Regional/Provincial/Field Office which has jurisdiction over the workplace, for conciliation and subject to DOLE's existing enforcement mechanism.

It must be noted, however, that there is no clarification made as to the right of the employer to impose fees on the issuance of the 2nd, 3rd or subsequent COE upon request of the present or former employee. There is also no specific mention of a prescriptive period as to how long upon resignation of the employee, is the employer required under existing laws to issue a COE. Furthermore, there is also no mention on what can be the employer's basis for issuance of a COE for old employees whose employment has been severed long ago, without remaining records with the company.

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