What are the Leaves that Employees are Entitled to Claim?

Last revision: Last revision:23 November 2023

1. Introduction

In the Philippines, the labor law recognizes several statutory leaves to protect the rights and well-being of employees. These leaves are essential components of the employment relationship and play a crucial role in promoting work-life balance and ensuring the welfare of employees.

This guide will enumerate and explain the key statutory leaves in the Philippines namely Service Incentive Leave (SIL), Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Special Leave for Women, and Solo Parent Leave as well as the leaves that may be granted by the employer under the employment contract or company policy such as Vacation Leave, Bereavement Leave, Emergency or Special Leave, and Study Leave.

2. What are Statutory Leaves?

Statutory leaves are those granted by various laws such as the Labor Code, the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, the Paternity Leave Act, the Magna Carta for Women, and the Solo Parent Leave Act. It is essential for an employee to be aware of the leaves that the employee is entitled to, and the employer is required under the law to grant them, otherwise, the employer may face penalties, fines, and administrative sanctions. The statutory leaves will be explained in the succeeding paragraphs:

2.1 Service Incentive Leave (SIL):

Every employee who has rendered at least one year of service is entitled to a yearly SIL of five days with pay.

The SIL is a general purpose leave and may be used by the employee for any purpose such as running their personal errands, government errands, or simply taking a day off for whatever reason, but this may be subject to a company rule set by the employer.

It's worth noting that the SIL is a right of an employee that cannot be waived or forfeited which means the employer cannot deny the employee the grant of SIL within a given year whether in leaves or its cash equivalent. The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.1.1 Notice to the Employer:

Employees are typically required to give advance notice to their employer before taking SIL. The law suggests a 30-day notice, although this may vary depending on the company policies. The purpose of the notice is to allow the employer to make necessary arrangements to manage the employee's absence and should set forth the specific dates on which they intend to take the SIL. This notice serves as a formal request and helps the employer in planning for the employee's temporary absence.

2.1.2 Completion of One Year of Service:

The primary requirement for claiming SIL is that the employee must have completed at least one year of continuous service with the employer. This one-year period is counted from the employee's first day of work.

2.1.3 Compliance with Company Policies:

Employers may have specific policies regarding the accrual, utilization, and administration of SIL. Employees should familiarize themselves with these policies and ensure that they comply with any additional requirements set by their employer.

2.1.4 Duration of Leave:

SIL of five days is generally non-cumulative and is intended to be used within the calendar year. This means that unused SIL credits at the end of the year do not automatically carry over to the following year. However, the law allows for the conversion of unused SIL into cash. If an employee does not use the SIL within the year, the employer is required to pay the monetary equivalent of the leave not taken at the end of the calendar year or during the termination of employment.

2.2 Sick Leave:

Every employee who has rendered at least one month of service is entitled to a sick leave of not more than five days with full pay in a calendar year.

Any type of sickness can be the reason for the grant of sick leave and may be used by the employee alongside the other types of leaves such as SIL especially when the sickness requires treatment for more than the maximum five days of sick leave.

The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.2.1 Notice to the Employer:

Employees are generally required to provide notice to their employer as soon as possible when they become aware of the need for sick leave. The notice should include the expected duration of the leave and, if possible, the date of return to work. This allows employers to plan for any necessary adjustments in staffing and workflow.

2.2.2 Medical Certificate:

A medical certificate from a licensed physician or an accredited medical practitioner is a standard requirement for sick leave. The certificate should detail the nature of the illness, the probable duration of the sickness, and any specific restrictions or recommendations for the employee's recovery. This document helps employers verify the legitimacy of the sick leave and ensures that the employee genuinely requires time off for health reasons.

2.2.3 Compliance with Company Policies:

Employers may have regulations governing sick leave that employees need to comply with such as the specific timelines for the submission of the medical certificate. This could include policies on the timing of sick leave during critical work periods or requirements for periodic updates on the employee's health status during the leave.

2.2.4 Duration of Leave:

The duration of this kind of leave will depend on the needs of the employee according to the treatment prescribed by the employee's physician and the number of days required for the employee to recover. It can be used once the employee gets sick for up to five days with pay, and as already mentioned, it can be combined with SIL to allow the employee to completely recover, and since this is only usable when the employee is sick, this type of leave cannot be deferred or accumulated for use at a later date.

2.3 Maternity Leave:

Female workers in the private sector are granted one hundred and five days of maternity leave with full pay, regardless of the type of childbirth (i.e. vaginal or cesarean birth). If the female employee suffers a miscarriage, she is entitled to sixty days of leave. In both cases, an additional thirty days (without pay) can be requested to extend the leave, and an additional fifteen days (with pay) is granted if the employee qualifies as a solo parent.

This type of leave is meant to protect the welfare of pregnant employees and it is the responsibility of the employer to grant maternity leave to ensure that the welfare of the pregnant employee should outweigh the business needs of the employer. If the employer fails to grant this leave, he may be punished by law with a fine and imprisonment.

The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.3.1 Notice to the Employer:

The employee must inform the employer of the pregnancy and the intention to use maternity leave. The law encourages early notification to allow the employer to make necessary arrangements to cover the employee's duties during her absence. The law does not prescribe a specific format for the notice, but it is advisable to provide clear and comprehensive information.

2.3.2 Medical Certificate:

The employee must provide a medical certificate attesting to the expected date of delivery. The medical certificate should be issued by a competent and accredited physician, indicating the estimated date of delivery and the prenatal care received. Some employers may request additional proof of pregnancy, such as an ultrasound report or other relevant medical documents. While not explicitly required by law, employers may have internal policies to verify the pregnancy.

2.3.3 Solo Parent ID (if applicable):

If the employee is a solo parent, she may be entitled to an additional 15 days of leave. A solo parent is defined and discussed in section 6. In such cases, the employee needs to present a Solo Parent ID or certification from the local government unit (LGU) where she resides.

2.3.4 Duration of Leave:

The employee has the right to choose at which date the maternity leave can commence taking into account her physician's orders, and apart from the original one hundred and five days or sixty days of leave as the case may be, in cases of live birth, said employee may, at her option, use an additional thirty days of maternity leave without pay provided that the employee must give a written notice to their employer at least forty-five days before the end of the employee's maternity leave. However, in the event of a medical emergency, no prior notice is required but the employee should give a subsequent notice to their employer.

It must be noted that maternity leaves can only be used on the employee's instance of pregnancy and cannot be deferred or accumulated for use at a later date.

2.4 Paternity Leave:

A married male employee is entitled to seven days of paternity leave with full pay for the birth of their legitimate child.

While the law grants the right to paternity leave to allow employees who are fathers to give attention to their spouses and their children, the specific policies for availing the leave may vary between employers. It must be noted that if the employer fails to grant paternity leave when the employee is qualified, he may be punished by law with a fine and imprisonment.

The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.4.1 Notice to the Employer:

A married male employee who wishes to avail himself of paternity leave must notify his employer within a reasonable period. While the law does not specify a specific timeframe, it is advisable for the employee to inform the employer as soon as possible after the birth of the child.

2.4.2 Submission of Supporting Documents:

The employee is generally required to submit supporting documents to substantiate the claim for paternity leave. These documents may include a copy of the child's birth certificate and a medical certificate or a certification from the attending physician confirming the childbirth. The medical certificate should indicate the date of delivery.

2.4.3 Marital Status and Certain Qualifications:

Paternity leave is specifically granted to married male employees. It must be noted that to be qualified with full pay, the law requires:

  • That he is an employee at the time of delivery or miscarriage;
  • That he is married and living with his spouse; and
  • That his claim is within the first 4 pregnancies of the claiming employee's spouse.

2.4.4 Duration of Leave:

The duration of paternity leave is a maximum of seven days with full pay. The seven-day leave can be used consecutively or intermittently, depending on the agreement between the employee and the employer. The paternity leave should be used within or near the period of the child's birth. This means that the leave cannot be deferred or accumulated for use at a later date. It is essential for the employee to plan the utilization of paternity leave in coordination with the expected date of childbirth.

2.5 Special Leave for Women:

The Magna Carta of Women provides for special leave benefits in cases of surgery due to gynecological disorders or complications arising from pregnancy. While this type of leave does not specify a maximum number of days, employers must exhibit sensitivity and flexibility in implementing this leave, recognizing the unique health challenges faced by women.

Employers are generally expected to handle requests for special leave for women with a high degree of confidentiality and sensitivity due to the nature of gynecological concerns or complications arising from pregnancy. Employees should feel comfortable discussing such matters with their employers, knowing that their privacy will be respected.

The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.5.1 Notice to the Employer:

As with many types of leaves, employees are generally required to notify their employers as soon as possible about the need for special leave.

2.5.2 Qualifications:

Any female employee who has been working for the employer for the last twelve months and has rendered at least six months of continuous aggregate service may use the said leave prior to undergoing surgery.

2.5.3 Medical Certificate:

Employers typically require employees to submit a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner specifying the nature of the gynecological disorder or pregnancy-related complication. The medical certificate should include details such as the diagnosis, recommended treatment, and the duration of the special leave required. Employees may be required to submit other supporting documents related to their condition such as hospital records, prescriptions, or any other documentation that provides further details about the medical situation.

2.5.4 Duration of Leave:

It must be noted that this special leave can only be used at the time the employee has a gynecological disorder requiring treatment and recovery and cannot be deferred or accumulated for use at a later date. The duration will depend on what the medical practitioner states in the medical certificate in relation to the required treatment.

2.6 Solo Parent Leave:

A solo parent is entitled to seven working days of leave per year.

A solo parent leave can be used by the employee to perform their duties to the children under their supervision and care. It is not required under the law that the solo parent be the actual parent of the child, the employee can be a sibling who is taking care of the child or a relative who acts as the child's guardian.

The requirements of this leave are as follows:

2.6.1 Notice to the Employer:

Solo parents are required to notify their employer within a reasonable period of their intention to use Solo Parent Leave depending on the needs of the children under the supervision and care of the solo parent. The notification should include the proposed dates for taking the leave. It is advisable for employees to provide this notice as early as possible to allow the employer sufficient time to make necessary arrangements.

2.6.2 Qualifications:

To be eligible for Solo Parent Leave, an employee must qualify as a solo parent as defined by the law as an individual who is left alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to any of the following circumstances:

  • Death of the spouse;
  • Spouse is detained or is serving a sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one year;
  • Legal separation or de facto separation from the spouse for at least one year;
  • Abandonment of the spouse for at least one year;
  • Physically or mentally incapable spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner; and
  • Any other condition that is equivalent to the circumstances mentioned such as if a capable sibling of legal age is left to take care of his minor siblings.

2.6.3 Registration with the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office:

Solo parents must be registered with the City or Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (C/MSWDO) where they reside. The registration process typically involves submitting documents to prove the solo parent's eligibility. This evidence may include a death certificate, legal separation documents, or medical certificates, depending on the circumstances.

After registering with the C/MSWDO, the solo parent is issued a Solo Parent Identification Card. This card serves as proof of the individual's status as a solo parent. To claim Solo Parent Leave, the employee must present this identification card to the employer when making the leave request.

2.6.4 Duration of Leave:

The law does not provide whether the Solo Parent Leave of seven days may be cumulated or deferred to a later date. This may depend upon the company policies laid down by the employer. However, it must be noted that the leave should be granted if the solo parent is required to give attention and care to the child concerned within a given year.

3. What are the leaves that may be granted by the employer (Non-statutory leaves)?

These are leaves that are not mandatorily required by the law for the employer to grant but for purposes of enhancing the working conditions and quality of life of employees, these types of leaves may also be granted by the employer in addition to the statutory leaves. It must be noted that these leaves are granted by virtue of an employment contract or company policy and as such, the requirements to claim them are subject to the provisions of the employment contract or company policy concerned.

The employee can claim these kinds of leaves through the use of a Leave Request from Employee. As part of the employer's management prerogative, the employer can allow employees to take different types of leaves depending on the needs of the employees.

The following leaves are the common types of leaves allowed by an employer and is not an exhaustive list:

3.1 Vacation Leave:

While the Philippine Labor Code does not explicitly state the number of days for vacation leave, the legal basis for this benefit is generally derived from the employer-employee contractual agreement. Employers are encouraged to establish clear and reasonable policies regarding vacation leave accrual, utilization, and scheduling.

3.2 Bereavement Leave:

Employers may grant a specific number of days for bereavement leave, and compassionate considerations for employees facing the loss of immediate family members are crucial. Providing support beyond the legal requirements, such as counselling services or flexible work arrangements, reflects an employer's commitment to the well-being of its workforce.

3.3 Study Leave:

Some companies recognize the importance of continuous learning and professional development and may provide study leave for employees pursuing further education. This aligns with the broader goal of creating a skilled and motivated workforce.

4. Conclusion

The statutory leaves in the Philippines are deeply rooted in legal provisions that seek to protect and enhance the rights and well-being of employees. Employers should not only comply with the legal requirements but also go beyond, fostering a workplace culture that values the holistic development of its workforce. To recapitulate, the statutory leaves, all of which have the general requirement that the employer be notified are the SIL, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Solo Parent Leave, and the Special Leave for women.

On the other hand, employees should also be aware of the leaves that are granted by the employer under the employment contract or company policy, as an additional benefit from those granted by law. Some of these leaves are Vacation Leave, Bereavement Leave, and Study Leave. It must be noted that the requirements for these types of leaves are governed by the provisions of the employment contract and company policies placed by the employer.

Regular reviews of leave policies and effective communication with employees ensure that these benefits align with evolving legal standards and the changing dynamics of the modern workplace.

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