THE Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) administrative sanction against infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty Group Ltd. for failing to deploy a worker overseas in breach of his contract.

Previously, DoLE had affirmed a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) decision to disqualify the firm from future participation in the overseas employment program.

In a 12-page decision issued July 27, the CA Thirteenth Division found that DoLE did not abuse its discretion in holding the company liable for breach of contract.

“The DoLE did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it affirmed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) ruling that the petitioners were liable for breach of contract, and that the petitioners were disqualified from further participation in the overseas employment program,” according to the ruling written by Associate Justice Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela.

The court noted that the “unilateral and unreasonable” failure to deploy a migrant worker exposes the employer to administrative sanction.

The POEA had found that Balfour Beatty was obliged to deploy Romeo H. Lequido after agreeing to sponsor his deployment to the UK.

The company hired Mr. Lequido as a linesman in 2008 and deployed him to the UK from June 2009 to October 2010 and to New Zealand from October 2010 to October 2012.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he was required to undergo training before his next deployment to the UK.

On Feb. 18, 2013, Balfour Beatty required Mr. Lequido to sign a written statement of employment that required him to complete all documentary requirements and to pass a health assessment to be eligible for deployment to the UK.

The company terminated Mr. Lequido in July 2013, citing “the length of time it has taken to obtain his work visa (for) the UK.”

Under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, an employer’s failure to deploy a migrant worker without valid reason is considered illegal recruitment and grounds for disciplinary action. — John Victor D. Ordoñez