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 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

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  1. we’re more than 6 mos. on forced leave, what can we do? is long forced leave covered by the labor code? thanks a lot

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