Forced Leave in the Philippines, According to DOLE

Last December, I was put on forced leave for ten days by my employer, together with 15 other colleagues. It was good I had another source of income, otherwise  some of my payables would have not been paid.

Actually, the boss didn’t use the term “forced leave.” And she refuses to call it so. She just explained that the Philippines branch needed to cut costs for the month of December so that the U.S. parent would not close the operations in Makati. Whew! She further said that the U.S. is contemplating consolidating the Philippine operations into a location where costs are lower.

I visited the site of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), but surprisingly I couldn’t find anything on forced leaves. It’s good the site accepts queries. So I sent the following query last December:

Sir/Madam: Does the Labor Code have provisions on forced leaves? I have searched all over the site and inside the Labor Code books/chapters and I can’t find something about forced leaves. Kindly please help me find them. And please email me the links. The only things that I’ve found on the Internet about forced leaves in the Phil. are discussions about it in tsikot.yehey.com forum. And of course, they’re not official views. I like to know if forced leaves are legal, as I was put on forced leave starting today together with about 13 others. We’re regular employees. My manager though doesn’t like to label it as forced leave because we’re not paid by the hour, but by the number of records we write. The managers argued that they need to cut costs for the month of December, which has a lot of holidays. Thanks a lot.

And hooray, the Legal Service of DOLE answered relatively fast!

Dear Ms. Nora:

Work days may be reduced on account of losses. The reduction in the number of regular working days is resorted to by the employer to prevent serious losses due to causes beyond his control, such as when there is a substantial slump in the demand for his goods or services or when there is lack of raw materials.  This is more humane and in keeping with sound business operations than the outright termination of the services or the total closure of the enterprise.

In situations where there is valid reduction of workdays, the employer may deduct the wages and living allowances corresponding the days taken off from the workweek, in the absence of agreement specifically providing that a reduction in the number of workdays will not adversely affect the remuneration of employees.  This view is consistent on the principle of “no-work-no-pay”.  Furthermore, since the reduction of workdays is resorted to as a cost-saving measure, it would be unfair for the employer to pay the wages and living allowances even on unworked days that were taken off from the regular workweek.

Thank you for writing.

Legal Service, DOLE

*Please be advised that this email address will only be used to answer email queries sent through our comments and inquiries section. Kindly send your questions through our comments and inquiries section in www.dole.gov.ph

32 Comments

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  1. This case is somewhat similar to mine; however, the reason that my employer gave me was about my health condition. I’m an ESL company manager and was replaced by another manager at the middle of the camp. After receiving negative comments, my employer decided, without letting me explain, to give me two-week leave. She didn’t specify what kind of leave though. After that period, the salary that I received was deducted according to how many days I was on leave. Now, I’m on the process of settling this issue together with my colleagues who also have their own personal issues against our company.

  2. Imagine, you’re already a manager, and yet you received such treatment. Perhaps your firm was cost cutting also, and your employer had to put some on leave. Were your colleagues put on leave also? Or were you alone who was put on leave? It’s frustrating really, because we can’t find a clear provision in the Labor Code. And as you can see in DOLE’s reply to my inquiry, it’s leaning more towards the employer. DOLE seems to be saying, “Magpasalamat pa nga kayo di nagsara yang company niyo.” And you’re right about settling the issue with your employer rather than using other means, especially during this time of economic downturn. It’s not easy filing a case. Thanks, Raine, for commenting.

  3. ano po ba ang masasabi nyo sa st peter plan may trust fund po ba sila o pareho lang ng pacific life plan na lugi din ano po ba ang proteksion naming mga plan holder?

  4. Isa sa 24 licensed pre-need firms for 2009 yong St Peter Life Plan mo. Kaya palagay ko, ang kalagayan niya katulad din lang ng karamihan sa list na yan na kulang sa trust fund, pero nag-o-operate pa rin. Nagkukulang ang kita nila kasi yong interest rates ngayon ng mga bonds at mutual funds ay masyadong mababa kesa sa inasahan nilang 12%. Pero kung mag-okay na ang ekonomya worldwide, at naka-survive naman silang mga pre-need firms during the crisis, okay tayo, okay din ang plan mo. Sana lang magagaling at resourceful ang mga managers ng pre-need firms natin para ma-survive nila. Harry, may nalaman o nabasa ka na bang St Peter Life planholder na nag-claim last year o this 2009 na hindi nakakuha?

  5. Hello, Chill, I don’t know. But I think that during this economic downturn, the DOLE is supporting the employers’ use of forced leaves. Just look at DOLE’s answer to my query. Parang ang sinasabi ay “Buti nga di kayo tinanggal, or buti nga di nagsara yong company ninyo.”

    Here’s a portion of DEPARTMENT ADVISORY No. 2 Series of 2009:

    Adoption of flexible work arrangements is considered as better alternative than the outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishments.

    Forced Leave refers to one where the employees are requires to go on leave for several days or weeks utilizing their leave credits if there are any. Para mas definite yong sagot sa tanong mo, you can use this inquiry box. Yong inquiry ko, DOLE staff answered on the second day:
    http://www.dole.gov.ph/contact/index.php

  6. Hi Alexis, employers have the upper-hand in this case. Obviously, they don’t like to pay their employees the whole day just standing or sitting in the sidelines, waiting for the crews to rearrange things. With good planning, they could have done it on a Sunday. But if this involves machinery, one day will not be enough. Sometimes, even if these forced leaves are hard on our income, we just accept, because if we go to the DOLE and complain, I doubt if they WILL or they CAN do something. I just hope it’s not 1 week, but one or 2 days only. best regards

  7. Hi, forced leave confuse me a lot, I have also look into the net (DOLE site)for possible answer but end up nothing. I am wondering , if this is applied consistently to no work, no pay, how is this substantially affect the monthly paid regular employee (rank and file employee) my employer is planning to put us to forced leave and if we want or rather I want to be paid on those affected days I have to file a leave . Is this legal?

  8. Hi Jhun, sad to say, DOLE gives considerations to employers because of the employment situation in the country. I’m a bit negative due to my past experience, but employers can always present valid and legal reasons for forced leaves using their lawyers. You can read about forced leaves at pinoylawyer.org — although I’m not affiliated with this forum, I like that the lawyer there is answering as many Qs as he can.

  9. eh pano kaya yung forced leave na 2days..kasi sarado yung deparment, stop ang operation, dahil may outreach program..yung mga hindi sumama..dapat mag forced leave?

  10. Good morning po. May rules po ba sa force leave? Like for example dapat 2 to 3 times lang pwede mag force leave ang company within a year kapag nag force leave ulet within a year magsara na lang ang company?

  11. Hi Machelle, doon sa rule sa flexible work arrangements, wala namang nakalagay kung ilang forced leaves in a year. Binibigyan ng Labor Dept ng leeway ang company na mag-declare ng forced leaves during economic difficulties daw to save the company and save jobs.

  12. Hi dennis, doon sa DOLE code about forced leave, walang nakalagay na specific number of months… nakasulat ay several weeks or months, basta huwag lang daw permanent, at basta ang reason ng forced leaves and other flexible work skeds is to save the company from getting closed.

  13. panu po kung ang project ng company ay na divert lang at hindi nawala o na dissolve at ang ginawa ng company ay pinag force leave nila at walang nakalatag na plano para sa mga empleyado na kung tutuusin ay nilipat lng sa probinsya ang trabaho.

  14. Hi Allan, sad to say, companies always win in cases like these because they can always say it’s for the survival of the company. You can ask DOLE about your case: dole.gov.ph — Click Contact Us and then Submit Legal Query.

  15. Gudpm po.can a private school asks knder 2 teachers to forceleave fr work since mga knder 2 students will b in gr 1 this january.so mga knder 2 tchers wla nang stdents n maituturo.mga tchers p dto ay permanent n po.ty

  16. Hello I’m so confused about force leave, naka leave na ako sa time ng low season, and ngayon this December kailangan na naman daw mag force leave is that right? because its already peak season but we are suffering of low occupancy. The reason of my employer is we don’t have a marketing staff that’s why we are in low occupancy.

  17. Hi Jenerie, truly frustrating, pero kung low occupancy nga naman is walang perang pumapasok. What is also sad is that if we complain to DOLE, they really cannot do anything, they will just say “it’s because your company wants to survive, so it’s cutting cost, etc. etc”. Merong page sa DOLE for asking legal questions, http://www.dole.gov.ph/queries/submit , but ask anonymously so you won’t alienate yourself from your employer.

  18. If an employer puts an employee on force leave or vacation leave ( with pay), does the employee have the right to say that this is illegal? Because it lessens her total vl ,even if the day was paid by the company?

  19. Hi Winnie, sorry I’m not a labor lawyer, but I think if the company uses forced leaves to prevent the company from further financial difficulty and from closure and the company reports this forced leave remedy to the DOLE, then the forced leave is legal. I based my answer on DOLE’s advisory on Flexible Work Arrangements.

  20. Hi, Pwede po bang mgforceleave ang isang company, kht wla nmng loss? kasi almost 20 yata kming na forceleave, although ung project nmin is running, ang gnwa nila itnransfer kmi sa ibang project, then dun kmi na forceleave, ang reason nila is na dissolve daw ung paglilipatan nmin, is it legal? kasi ang alm ko nghhire pa rin sila ng bago, pero ung mga na fore leave is hndi pa tntwagan, gano katagal ba ung maximum na force leave, or kng pwede kming mg file ng case sa company… thanks

  21. Hi kenji, you can ask help from DOLE to see if you have a good case. Initially, you can inquire through the DOLE website’s Contact Page. If they’re hiring new employees to avoid your higher salaries, then maybe you have a case, but consider also the time, stress, and cost of pursuing a case.

  22. I am having a problem when it comes to these kind of situation. I’ve applied for these company and they hired me. The signing of contract is done but the problem is that after 4 weeks or lets call it a month, they required us not to go to work for a month or two. The issue is still on process. Are these terms considerable to DOLE?

  23. Hi Mark, sad to say that this forced leave issue really happens, specially for firms depending on seasonal projects. I think at this juncture, complaining to the DOLE will just waste your effort and time, as companies can always reason their way out. While waiting, look for another job.

  24. Hi. Ok..sa pagkakaintindi ko
    ..force leave is legal as long as ang reason is to avoid companies from closing… but how bout proper notification? Na force leave kase kameng mga tenured we were advised 24hrs before the effective date of the said leave…and also ung mga newly hired employee ang may sched..I’m working from a BPO company ..

  25. And since bpo ung company
    .nung tinanong namen ang management kung bakit sinabe lng nila na request un nang client at wala silang magagawa…by the way ang term pala nila na ginamit is VTO-voluntary time off…kahit hnd namen gusto un…sa pagkaka-alam ko dapat may consent from the employee pag vto..

  26. Hi bernadette, as far as I know, the word VTO is not yet in our labor code, as this is a practice started by call centers abroad to manage productivity. You’re right, VTO, as used in the US, is an option that employees can avail of, using the company’s VTO system. If your VTO equals many days, then that would be technically forced leave here in the Phils. I assume VTO is in your company policy or contract, as companies are always shrewd to protect themselves. It’s sad that based on observations, DOLE is soft on BPO companies and even on local companies about forced leaves. They always accept the companies’ argument of cost-cutting to prevent outright closure. Nevertheless, if you like, you can ask your question about VTO here: http://www.dole.gov.ph/queries/submit

  27. Dear sir / madam,

    Does the labor code have provision about force leave due to sickness?

    Here is my story. : )

    I was diagnosed with TUBERCULOSIS (PTB). Doctor told me to take leave for a month and take medication.

    But my employer, told me to take 2 months leave, to rest, and that means, i will use all my 15 VL AND 15 SL for this. Also, she told me to file sickness benefits to sss for the 2nd month of my leave. She let me sign a form with no specific days yet of my leave, though from the start I told her 1month was enough. I signed the form and when she returned it to me, it was already approved and 2 months leave was already indicated.

    It’s ok for me to take a leave for a month, but not for more 2 months since this said month is no longer paid by my employer only the first month.

    If after a month of medication, my doctor issued me fit to work certification, can our HR ignore the certification from my doctor And let me finish the remaining month of leave?

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Thank you,

  28. Tanong ko lang po.,kasi recently yung typhoon GLENDA naapektuhan yung CLARK ECONOMIC ZONE.my question is this.,nasa third shift po kami bale 11:30pm ang shift namin, ngayon inabisuhan kami na walang pasok ng gabi tapos i-file daw namin ng VL yung di namin pagpasok ng gabi dahil dun sa typhoon. di ba dineclare ng company na walang pasok.? bakit nila kami pinapag-file ng VL.? TAMA po ba yun.?

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