Working Over The Holidays: How To Negotiate Paid Time Off and the Holidays With Your Employer

Next to salaries, the holiday work schedule is another ‘sensitive’ topic for online worker and employers alike. The Philippines have more holidays compared to most countries. Sometimes, we even move the dates of our holidays to offer people longer weekends. It’s common practice for employees to would save up the leaves in order to use it over the Christmas break, so they don’t have to work between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

Most business in the Philippines are aware of this and create internal policies to work with their employees on whether or not they need to work over the holidays. And what kind of compensation they can expect if the have to work over the holidays.

For business owners outsourcing to Filipino virtual assistants, this arrangement can be baffling. Not only do they have fewer holidays, it’s also part of their culture that you’re expected to work on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and the days between Christmas and New Year. So negotiating for days off, especially paid days off when we have so many holidays compared to them, can be tricky.

Even though it’s a difficult topic to broach, it has to be done, especially when you’re just starting out as a virtual assistant or even as an experienced VA. Talking through and agreeing on what the policies should be on holidays and paid time off will not only reduce conflict, it will also make your holidays less stressful.

Here are a few tips on how to make the negotiation process between you and your potential or current employer easier.

Never assume they know about our holidays.

Even though they have chosen to outsource to the Philippines, that doesn’t mean they know about our holidays or the practice of paid time off and overtime pay. In most cases, the reason why some clients and employers don’t respect our holidays is they simply don’t know.

When they do find out, we’re be bombarded by questions on what should they do and what kind of compensation would be fair. That’s why we wrote this blog post to explain Philippine holidays and paid time off to them. And you can share it too to open up the conversation. In our experience, most employers are happy to honor these holidays and offer paid time off once they know what it’s all about.

Compare holidays calendars and negotiate on what holidays you can agree on.

Now let’s say your employer wants you to work over some holidays because the business needs it. This is where you will need to have a frank conversation with your employer.

What holidays are really important to you? These are the holidays that really need to be with your family. Holidays that you really observe. What holidays can you compromise on? Maybe there are some religious holidays that you don’t really observe. Or some other holiday that you don’t really enjoy. You need to point out what these holidays are as a starting point when negotiating. You can’t work on these holidays but you can work on other holidays.

The thing here is you have to be willing to compromise. You need to give some to get some. You client will appreciate this because it lets him/her know what they can expect and make adjustments. They can accept the schedule offered. Offer higher rates if there are holidays that you are absolutely needed at work. Your employer might even offer days off outside our holiday calendar in lieu of other days off  because it’s their holiday (like Thanksgiving).

Don’t be afraid to talk about holiday pay.

Once you have an agreement to work over some holidays, you need to talk about holiday pay. You need to ask. Don’t expect them to offer. In all likelihood, they’re just waiting for you to ask because they don’t know how to compute for it. If you already agreed on a salary or hourly rate, you can easily compute for the holiday rate which is explained here.

Write it all down.

Once everything is settled, write everything down and have it included in your employment contract.

You can also recommend that it be included in the company policy to make it easier for the business when they hire more virtual assistants in the future.

This way, in the event of a dispute, you can use the document/contract/policy on how to settle things.

Talk to your family and friends about your work schedule.

Your family and friends will probably expect that your days off will coincide with Philippine holidays. So they make plans and expect you to be there. If that’s not the case, you need to let them know what your schedule is. This way, feelings won’t be hurt and plans can be changed to include you.

I agree that this is an uncomfortable topic. But it’s better to talk about it now than have it cause problems down the line. We have to speak up if we want to get the things we want and deserve.

And to give you an idea of when you should put these ideas into action, here’s the 2019 Philippine Calendar.

Regular Holidays

Holiday NameDateWeekday
Holiday NameDateWeekday
New Year's DayJanuary 1Tuesday
The Day of Valor / Araw ng Kagitingan April 9Tuesday
Maundy ThursdayApril 18Thursday
Good FridayApril 19Friday
Labor DayMay 1Wednesday
Independence DayJune 12 Wednesday
National Heroes DayAugust 26Monday
Bonifacio DayNovember 30Saturday
Christmas DayDecember 25Wednesday
Rizal DayDecember 30Monday

Special Holidays

Chinese New YearFebruary 5Tuesday
EDSA People Power Revolution AnniversaryFebruary 25Monday
Black SaturdayApril 20Saturday
Ninoy Aquino DayAugust 21Wednesday
All Saints DayNovember 1Friday
Additional Non-Working HolidaysNovember 1Friday
December 24Tuesday
Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion of MaryDecember 8Sunday
Last Day of the YearDecember 31Monday

Julia Sta RomanaAbout Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana
Julia has been working for 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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