Enshrined in Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution is the credo for people working in government: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
Thus, Supreme Court (SC) employees who are absent without official leave (AWOL), incur habitual absenteeism, habitual tardiness, or unauthorized absences should know the consequences of their infractions.
Section 35, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (Leave of Absences) states that an employee absent for at least 30 days without approved leave shall be considered on AWOL and shall be dropped from the service after due notice. However, the employee shall be informed, at the latter’s address appearing on the 201 files or the latter’s last known written address, of the employee’s separation from the service not later than five days from its effectivity. However, when the exigencies of the service require the employee’s immediate presence and the former fails/refuses to return to the service, the head of office may drop the same from the service even prior to the expiration of the 30-day period above stated.
An employee’s being AWOL will be reflected in the latter’s service record. For unauthorized absences of less than 30 days, it has been the procedure at the SC-Office of Administrative Services-Leave Division to inform the OAS-Complaints and Investigation Division of such unauthorized absences by serving the employee at the latter’s last known address on record a Return-to-Work Order signed by the Chief Administrative Officer. “Failure on his part to report for work within the period stated in the Order shall be a valid ground to drop him from the rolls.” (2nd par. Sec. 63, amended by CSC MC Nos. 41, s. 1998 and 14, s. 1999.)
It must be noted that filing a letter of resignation by the concerned employee does not automatically clear the latter, since the resignation letter has to go through proper channels and must be with the recommending approval of the employee’s immediate superior or the Chief of Office. The resignation letter will then be forwarded to the SC through the Clerk of Court for approval by the respective Chair of the Court’s three divisions. While the employee concerned is awaiting action on the letter of resignation by the SC, the employee must still report to work in order that the government service may not be prejudiced, otherwise the employee will be declared on AWOL.
In 2006, six SC employees were dropped from the rolls; one in 2005; and five in 2004.
“An officer or an employee commits habitual absenteeism if he incurs unauthorized absences exceeding the allowable monthly leave credit of two and a half days under the leave law for at least three months in a semester or at least three consecutive months during the year.” [Sec. 22 (q), Rule XIV, Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of 1987) reiterated in Memorandum Circular No. 4, series of 1991; GALDO, Ruben Q., CSC Resolution No. 97-1823, March 11, 1997]
In 2006, two employees were fined by the Court for habitual absenteeism. In 2005, one employee was fined, while another was suspended for six months. The year 2004 recorded no employee penalized for the said offense.
When an employee fails to report on a time set as his official time of arrival, he is considered tardy. “It is committed by an employee if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or at least two (2) consecutive months during the year.” [HOMECILLO, Carmelito v., CSC Resolution No. 97-0791, January 28, 1997, MC No. 4, s. 1991] To make sure that your half days are not considered tardiness or undertime, file the corresponding leave.
“Where the position an employee holds not only requires the latter to report for duty at a prescribed time, but more significantly, the exigency of public service so requires it, the employee’s tardiness in office irreparably prejudices the government service, taking into account the frequency and regularity of its commission. An employee’s unauthorized tardiness constitutes either a grave offense or a light offense, depending on its depravity and effects on the government service as defined by the agency head.” [Rule IV, Section 52, Paragraph (A)/(C), No. 4; Parungao, Edelwina DG., CSC Resolution No. 00-1397, June 13, 2000]
Frequent unauthorized tardiness or habitual tardiness is penalized with a reprimand for the 1st offense; suspension of one to 30 days for the 2nd offense; and dismissal from the service for the third offense.
Moreover, Rule 17, sec. 8 (Government Office Hours) of the Omnibus Rule Implementing Book 5 of #) No. 292 and Other Pertinent Civil Service Laws states that “Officers and employees who have incurred tardiness and undertime regardless of the number of minutes per day, exceeding 10 times a month for two consecutive in a semester shall be subject to disciplinary action.” (*Amended by CSC Memo Circular No. 19, Series of 1999)
In year 2006, 13 were reprimanded; 12, severely reprimanded; four, suspended; 21, sternly warned; and two, fined. Year 2005 saw 14 reprimanded and two suspended employees. Twenty-eight Court employees were reprimanded, 12 were suspended, and one was fined in 2004.
Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 [LEAVE OF ABSENCES] also states that “An official/employee who is absent without approved leave shall not be entitled to receive his salary corresponding to the period of his unauthorized leave of absence. It is understood, however that his absence shall no longer be deducted from his accumulated leave credits, if there are any.”
The Rule also provides that “When ever the application for leave of absence, including terminal leave, is not acted upon by the head of agency or his duly authorized representative within five (5) working days after receipt hereof, the application for leave of absences shall be deemed approved (Amended by CSC MC No. 41., s. 1998).”
In 2006, one employee was dismissed for this offense. In 2005, one employee was suspended, and another (1) was fined. In 2004, one case was filed, but was dismissed.
(Editor’s Note: Atty. Lavandero is Court Attorney IV at the SC-OAS-Complaints and Investigation Division.)