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. 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. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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 — although I’m not affiliated with this forum, I like that the lawyer there is answering as many Qs as he can.

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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: — Click Contact Us and then Submit Legal Query.

  12. 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 mga knder 2 tchers wla nang stdents n maituturo.mga tchers p dto ay permanent n po.ty

  13. 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.

  14. 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, , but ask anonymously so you won’t alienate yourself from your employer.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. Hi. 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 ..

  22. 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..

  23. 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:

  24. 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,

  25. Tanong ko lang po.,kasi recently yung typhoon GLENDA naapektuhan yung CLARK ECONOMIC 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.?

  26. Hi! 1yr+ n me regular s isang garments printing company, dis yr humina work load nmn at start n kmi ng force leave, mdalas 1 day lng pinapasok nmn s 1 wek, almost a yr n kmi gni2 ctwasyon, legal p po b i2, pa2long nmn po mlaman kng legal p b 2, d me kc mkaaccess sa dole website, ayw nmn mgsarado ng kompanya kht 1yr n wla hlos kmi gawa, kc d nmn daw lugi, pero lam nmn n w8 lng tlga ng employer nmn n mgsawa kmi at kusa mgresign ng s ganun wala cla byaran ng seperation pay, slamat po s 22long, godblesss

  27. Hi Alex, you can go to DOLE together with your co-workers and ask. But you should always be ready to look for another work in another company. With the costs and time needed to fight a company plus the stress and risks, I think it’s better if you start looking for a better company to work for. But of course this is only my opinion — ask others too.

  28. May I ask if holidays are paid if the day before the holidays were declared by the company as forced leave for probationary employees?
    Just like this week, our last day of work was last Dec.19,2014, holidays (dec. 24-26) were considered as absent.hoping for your answer.thanks

  29. Hi jenny, sad to say, your Christmas holidays will not be paid because you’ll be on forced leave (and not paid leave) on Dec 23, the working day immediately before the Christmas holidays. Ask others too

  30. Read a lot of articles regarding redundancy but most revolve around the contest of the legality of the termination of employment. Found no case similar or close the following..
    Management reorganized, declaring a certain post would redundant and decided to distribute the functions to other departments instead.
    Employee was informed of the redundancy however, rather than terminating the employment (due to the redundancy) and compensating the employee, management decides to offer a lower level function without change in compensation or be on “furlough” status for a maximum of six months.
    While on furlough, management would look for other posts aligned to the employee’s qualification and employee would have to go through the regular hiring process and employee would not be paid invoking the “no work, no pay” doctrine. Only after the period stated (six months) would the employee be compensated if no suitable position is found.
    Also, during this period, employee is forbidden to work in other companies otherwise, he/she would be deemed resigned or violated the dual contract restriction of our labor code.
    !. Since management has stated that the employee was redundant, doesn’t the employee have the right to assert to be redundiated instead? Is the employee limited to whatever the company decides to offer?
    2. Is this furlough arrangement legal? Is this even humane?
    3. Can companies place an employee on furlough status for a period of their choosing? Isn’t there a “humane” cap/limit?
    4. Isn’t this tantamount to “harassment” by management to avoid paying compensation? Uncertain source of income would leave no option but for the employee to resign instead and get the first available job in order to survive, waiving the separation pay entitlement.
    5. Isn’t the second offer to be given a lower level post with no change in compensation a case of “creative demotion?”
    6. Is the employee bound by the “Furlough” arrangement assuming that it is against the labor code or void of due process?
    Hoping for the above to merit your interest and attention.

  31. Hi Robert, yes, indeed, it’s puzzling that they did not give the option of termination with 1 month pay for every year of service, considering that there’s only 1 person involved. Will the compensation impoverish them? And yes, the furlough option is cruel, and leads anyone to doubt the company about its reasons or motives. The second option is also hurtful to one’s self-esteem and psyche, specially if the position is managerial, supervisory or requires professional license. Was termination with redundancy pay suggested by the employee and was denied?
    About furlough, I think they meant forced leave, which according to the DOLE flexible work arrangements advisory, is used only for the purpose of cutting business losses. Sorry I’m not qualified to make legal comments. The post above was based only on my own experience and research. I hope though that you’ll be able to get your redundancy compensation and move on.

  32. Hi! we’re being put on force leave by our company for 2 months because our division has no workload but other divisions have workloads. they cannot say that they are losing money because this year they are even giving performance bonus. they just want to put us on force leave to lessen operational cost but the company is green. is that right? Thanks!

  33. Hi gary, sad to say, many companies lack compassion; they refuse to see the effects on families if the breadwinners don’t receive salaries for 2 months. There’s also that possibility of not being called to return to work after 2 months. And companies can make DOLE view them favorably in many forced-leave cases. Your group can complain to DOLE, but be ready for undesirable consequences, or you can find another source of income (yes, sadly, easier said than done, but others have done it). Take care and pray.

  34. ask ko lang po if regular po ang employee at nagdeclare po ang company na magpoforce leave beacuse na of na kaunti lang ang sales po ang pumapasok. Sa 2 years na employed at 1 time lang nag leave ang employee. Kapag nagforce leave po ba ay ano lang po ang dapat na di bayaran ng employer? at anu po ang dapat na bayaran ng employer sa employee?

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