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A seafarer cannot be considered as a regular employee

A seafarer cannot be considered as a regular employee
Persida Acosta September 8, 2023

Dear PAO,

I work as a seaman on a ship overseas. I am employed by the same company under separate contracts; each for a fixed period spanning more than a year. Can I be considered a regular employee like my friends who work in the Philippines?


Dear Joverick,

Please be informed of the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Roberto Ravago vs. Esso Eastern Marine, Ltd. and Trans-Global Maritime Agency, Inc., docketed as GR 158324 (March 14, 2005), and penned by Associate Justice Romeo Callejo Sr., which is very apt for your concern, and where it was provided that:

"The Court ruled that the employment of seafarers for a fixed period is not discriminatory against seafarers and in favor of foreign employers. As explained by this Court in its July 29, 2002 Resolution in Millares:

"Moreover, it is an accepted maritime industry practice that employment of seafarers are for a fixed period only. Constrained by the nature of their employment which is quite peculiar and unique in itself, it is for the mutual interest of both the seafarer and the employer why the employment status must be contractual only or for a certain period of time. Seafarers spend most of their time at sea and understandably, they can not stay for a long and an indefinite period of time at sea. Limited access to shore society during the employment will have an adverse impact on the seafarer. The national, cultural and lingual diversity among the crew during the COE is a reality that necessitates the limitation of its period. xxx

"Thus, even with the continued re-hiring by respondent company of petitioner to serve as Radio Officer onboard Bergesen's different vessels, this should be interpreted not as a basis for regularization but rather a series of contract renewals sanctioned under the doctrine set down by the second Millares case. If at all, petitioner was preferred because of practical considerations — namely, his experience and qualifications. However, this does not alter the status of his employment from being contractual." (Emphasis added.)

You mentioned that you worked as a seaman on a ship overseas and were employed by the same company under separate fixed-term contracts. Based on the abovementioned decision, a seaman like you cannot be considered a regular employee due to the nature of your work. As such, your employment with your company is on a contractual basis or for a fixed period only.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our application of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated on.