What You Need To Know About Philippine Holidays and Paid Time Off (PTO)

Now that you have hired a Filipino virtual assistant, you’re probably wondering how to deal with Philippine holidays. What about paid time off? What would be the best way to approach this?

Well, that mostly depends on your outsourcing arrangement. And it’s best to address these issues of paid time off and holidays early on so it doesn’t interrupt your operations.

What You Need To Know About Paid Time Off (PTO)

Paid time off

Most Filipino workers and business in the Philippines recognize the following paid leaves:

  1. Sick Leaves. Most businesses offer up to 15 leaves per year and can be filed on the day itself. Most companies start offering this once the employee is done with their training period or they have been with the company for at least 6 month.
  2. Vacation Leaves. The number varies but on average ranges between 5 to 15 days per calendar year. This is an optional leave.
  3. Service Incentive Leaves. This is an option offered when an employee doesn’t use up all his leaves. He can get the cash equivalent of the leaves that weren’t taken for that year. Or the employee would have the option to take an extended leave to use up all the paid leaves.
  4. Maternity Leave. Women are eligible to 105 days leave covering child delivery, miscarriage, and emergency termination of pregnancy. While they are on leave, the business doesn’t have to give them their salaries. The salaries would covered by the Philippine Social Security System (SSS) if your employee made regular contributions to the social security fund to the for at least 3 years (36 contributions).
  5. Paternity Leave. Philippine Law now allows fathers to take a paid leave up to seven days within a month of having a baby.
  6. Parental Leave. The law allows for single parents with sole custody of their children an additional 7 days of paid leave.
  7. Rehabilitation Leave. This is provided for employees who have suffered some injury or illness. The extent of the leave would depend on the doctor’s recommendation and company policy.

Do All These Leaves Apply To Your Outsource Employees?

Do they Apply to All_

Not really. The paid leaves you offer would depend on your work arrangement with your Filipino VA. There are cases that paid leaves would not be applicable for all. Let’s look at the common outsourcing scenarios and whether the paid leaves would apply.

VAs Paid By The Hour

Holidays: If you hire your workers on a per hour basis and you don’t need them to work over the holidays, you don’t need to offer them paid time off.

If you need them to work over the holidays, you might want to offer additional incentives. An option would be to increase their hourly rates if you need them to work over the holidays.

Paid Leaves: If you want to be generous with your VA and offer any of the leaves presented above, you definitely can do that. But paid leaves generally don’t really apply to workers who are paid by the hour.

VAs Paid Per Project

Holidays: If the holiday falls within the agreed upon timeline for the project, there’s no need to offer paid time off. When you pay per project, the contract is with the output, not with the dates.

But if you want your VAs to rush on a project and if it would require working over the holidays, giving a bonus for early project completion would be fair compensation.

Paid Leaves: Same thing with virtual assistants paid by the hour. It’s your prerogative if you want to offer leaves or incentives.

Part-time and Full-time VAs Paid Per Month/Week (The Onlinejobs.ph Way)

Holidays: When you hire Filipino virtual assistants to work part-time or full-time, there are several ways you can approach this.

The Department of Labor recommends offering paid time off during regular holidays. But if you need your VAs to work over the holidays, you need to pay a little extra on top of the regular rate.

If it’s a regular holiday, you need to double their rate or 200% for that day. If it’s a special holiday, you pay their regular rate plus 30% for that day.

Paid Leaves: We strongly recommend that you offer whatever paid leaves would be reasonable for you and your business. With regards to when you start offering paid leaves, most businesses start to offer the leaves when employees have worked for at least 6 months. In the case of Philippine business, they would offer 1 sick leave and 1 vacation leave per month once the employee is done with their probationary status.

At OnlineJobs.ph, for the VAs who work for us, we’ve always offered as much paid leave time (PTO) as they want. Our policy is to take as much time as you want, just please let us know ahead of time when you’re taking it.

What About Holidays?

Holidays counter

It’s best to talk about this with your VA as soon as you hire them. Filipinos are very family oriented and will often plan trips or celebrations around long holidays. Some would choose to forgo holidays if they can “save up” these days for extended leaves. Settling these issues early on will avoid scheduling problems in the future.

Filipino virtual assistants do understand that there will be holidays when they would need to work. Asking your VA to do that doesn’t have to be awkward. There are things you can do make talking about this a painless process.

1. Check out the Philippine Holiday Calendar

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The best place to start is to know how many holidays there really are in the Philippines. They have regular and special holidays. Regular holidays are the ones that most Filipinos observe. The banks, schools and government offices are closed on those days. Special holidays are usually religious holidays and often optional. To help you guys out, here’s the latest holiday calendar.

2. Create your own calendar on which holidays they can take the day off and the holidays they need to work.

Philippine Holiday Checket

Now that you know what the Philippine holidays are, you also need to look at your own holiday calendar. Combine them into one calendar. On that calendar you mark:

  • what holidays your VA absolutely needs to work
  • what holidays are negotiable
  • what holidays they can take the day off

We recommend that you do this every year. Laying this out ahead of time gives your virtual assistant the opportunity to plan their schedules. This will also allow you to budget for their holiday pay (if you want them to work over the holidays) early on.

3. Lay-out your policies on paid and unpaid time off

Now that it’s clear what holidays can take their days off, you need to set up policy on filing leaves and vacation days. What your virtual assistant needs to do if they want to take a holiday or sick leave. Do they need to email you? Call you? Do you have a form that needs to be filled out? How many days in advance do they need to do this?
This system varies from business to business. You can use your experience as a guide or talk to your staff to figure out what your best work for you as a team.

4. Include the holiday schedule and paid time off policy in your onboarding process.

Presenting these leave policies early on not only is good employment practice, it helps avoid any misunderstanding that might arise once the holidays come up. When VAs know as soon as they’re hired,:

  • when they can start earning leave credits,
  • which holidays they need to work,
  • which paid holidays they have off,
  • how much their holiday pay is,
  • and how they can file leaves,

they can get to work right away. They (and you) don’t have to feel anxious when holidays come up. You have a system in place that you can use when needed. And with clear policies like this, outsourcing can be a less stressful experience.

Tips When Establishing Holiday and PTO policies

Once you start hiring a virtual assistant, you need to establish a schedule and policies on holidays and PTO. Having a policy in place would help you avoid surprises like all your employees take leaves at the same time or not preparing for overtime pay.

Put it down in writing

Include holiday or PTO policies in their contract, company policy or wiki. Even if you had it written down in your email or messages when you first hired them, it’s best to have a shared document that you can agree on. This document would serve as a guide when you hire more VAs or if any issues arise.

Communicate early what needs to be done over the holidays

In an ideal world, we all could take a vacation during the holidays, But, in a lot of cases, the holidays won’t stop customers from coming in. Nobody is going to want to do more than they absolutely have to. So to make things easier for everyone, be clear about what kind of work needs to be done over the holidays and avoid adding any unnecessary work. As much as possible, push all non-essential tasks until after the holidays. By then, your team would be rested and ready to take on more work.

Prepare shift schedules ahead of time

One way to make working over the holidays more tolerable is by sharing the load. By distributing the holiday shifts early, you’re giving your VAs time to plan around work and really enjoy the holidays.

Show some appreciation.

Another way to make working off the holidays more palatable is when you get some appreciation for the work you’re doing. This is where the 13th Month Pay comes in. A quick email thanking your team over the holidays goes a long way.

Pay them early!

The holidays are also one of the hardest times to send money to the Philippines. Overseas workers send more during this time. The back to back banking holidays add more bottlenecks to the process. So avoid the rush. Send salaries and bonuses as early as possible.

Address these issues early on to avoid any headaches in the future. Remember that many Filipinos feel uncomfortable when talking about these things so you have to make the first move. Get this out of the way so your VA can start working and you can start growing your business.

Want more tips on how your can improve your outsourcing experience, check out our case studies or take our 7 day challenge at OneVAAway.com


Julia Sta RomanaAbout Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana
Julia has been working for OnlineJobs.ph since 2012, first as a writer and now as its social media manager and content development specialist. She also founded the Davao Virtual Assistants Association, the biggest VA association in Davao City

She’s a full-time wife and mom and volunteers her time as an internet rights advocate.

You can follow Julia on Twitter and through her blog.

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