5 “Plot Twist” about Conflict of Interest Rules in the Philippines

BY Jules Dalmacio Articles

5 “Plot Twist” about Conflict of Interest Rules in the Philippines

If there’s a best month to talk about Conflict of Interest, it’s love month. While most office romances between rank and file employees isn’t an issue, (sometimes even “encouraged” within workmate circles) some relationships aren’t meant to be. Specifically, they aren’t meant to be in the name of the law. Here are some things that you need to know about Conflict of Interest in Philippine labor context.

Is Conflict of Interest in the Labor Code of the Philippines?

Let’s start with something that gets both singles and couples going—getting to know some secrets! Is conflict of interest in the Labor Code of the Philippines? Of course it is, but it’s only limited to almost provisional allowance, letting companies say what’s best to protect company interest. If anything, the specifics of any company’s Conflict of Interest Clause is defined by a company. Rules like employees can or cannot be romantically linked to each other is up to them. This is why some companies are stricter or more lenient than others.

Conflict of Interest Isn’t Only about Personal Relationships (But it is, Mostly, about Relationships)

To be absolutely blunt about it, conflict of interest is easier said as conflict of company/employer interest. For one, anything that’s defined under its clauses is anything that the company may deem as detrimental to itself. These conflicts can be anything that impedes operation like lover’s quarrels. It could also be bigger, like revealing company secrets to a relative in a competitor brand.

At face value, some restrictions that may come to mind is that you can’t be related, intimately or filially, with someone working for a competitor. However, Conflict of Interest may also include the None-Compete Clause or the same clause that disallows you from being hired by a competitor company after resignation for a certain amount of time, and other analogously similar rules. While it isn’t all about your personal relationships, it is still defined by your relationship—in the latter, it is defined by the employee-employer relationship.

Rules and Rulings Are Based on Jurisprudence

In some complicated instances, if an action is allowed or not, ruling will be based on jurisprudence. For example, some companies might be hyper specific in defining that relationships between a male and a female are disallowed within a company; will this mean that same sex relationships can fall below the radar? In a lot of cases yes, because jurisprudence in the Philippines is guided by the idea that “what the law does not prohibit, it allows.” In most better judgments of labor courts, specificity is important but it must also be interpreted in favor of employees and those that it does not define.

Non-compete Can be Negotiated (Sometimes)

The Department of Labor and Employment are known to pass judgment favoring employees more that employers. The idea behind this is that employers are in themselves already powerful entities; if anyone needs defense, it’s the employee. However, for breaches of none-compete agreements, the contract trumps all.

While none-compete rules can be strict, it is also important that no contract may disallow employees from being able to work especially at crafts that they are good at. Salesmen for a certain phone brand may resign but may not be disallowed from being a sales staff for a different brand forever, for example. Reasonable limits have to be set.

As with any relationship, getting off easy from a previous employer can also be done with just talking. Some none-compete breach can be addressed and waived with the right dialogue. For some, talk can be cheap; but for a sincere employee, talk could mean career growth.

Violations are Always Civil

At the very least, breaches in Conflict of Interest could mean disciplinary action. Sometimes, it bears heavier; being in a relationship with a coworker might necessitate one or both of you needing to resign. And then there are some rules that seem too intimidating like training bonds that cost thousands or millions of pesos. Regardless of the nature of the rule of Conflict of Interest that might be breached, all of them are civil in nature. This means that, as of writing, no jail time can be garnered from any of them.

Whether it be office romance or employer-employee fallout, when it comes to learning about Conflict of Interest, it’s important to acknowledge that what feels good might not always be right. Err on the safe side because some infractions might cost you your job, or huge sums of money. If feelings are too strong to contain, coordinate, negotiable, and have dialogues on how to amicably resolve situations. This love month, we’d like to remind you to love freely, but also love responsibly.

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