“Health is an investment, not an expense”
In the Philippines, healthcare is expensive; as they say, “mahal magkasakit.” This makes us realize that health should be a priority, especially for employees who work for a living.
If you are unsure or worried about not receiving a salary when you’re sick and absent from work, this is your guide to knowing your rights as an employee.
PHILIPPINE LAW FOR SICK LEAVE
The Philippine Labor Code does not explicitly specify anything about sick leave benefits, what it states is merely the five days of service incentive leaves (SIL) for every year of work, which can then be used for sick purposes.
This means that the government does not implement sick leaves. It became the initiative of the companies to offer sick leaves as part of the employment contract or company policy. And because it is between the private company and the employee, the number of sick leaves and whether paid or not varies. Commonly, regular employees have 12 to 15 paid sick leaves.
Geneliza Aguilar, a Senior Human Resources (HR) Specialist clarified in an interview with Spot.ph that sick leaves are not mandated by law. It is only a discretionary benefit taken up by companies. Hence, the terms and conditions are provided variously by different companies.
“Sick leave is often considered a discretionary benefit, and it is not a mandatory requirement imposed by the government in many places. Employers may choose to provide sick leave as part of their benefits package, but the specific terms and conditions can vary widely between companies,” Aguilar said.
HOW TO USE YOUR SICK LEAVES
One thing about getting sick is that they just come right to your doorstep unannounced and this makes filing planned sick leave hard to do. However, this does not mean that filing a sick leave is complicated.
According to Aguilar, in filing a sick leave, employees must inform their employer sooner rather than later; the ideal time to do this is before the shift begins.
Because sick leave terms and conditions vary between companies, requirements to validate an application for sick leave also vary widely; some require medical certificates, especially for sick leaves that go beyond three consecutive days. Preparing a medical certificate also serves as evidence and increases the chance the application gets approved.
“This helps us validate the genuine need for extended leave and assists in maintaining a fair and consistent approach to leave management. Our primary concern is the well-being of our employees, and we strive to balance it with the operational needs of the organization,” Aguilar said.
WHAT IF I RAN OUT OF SICK LEAVES
Reverting to the Philippine Labor Code that vaguely states the leaves Filipino workers could enjoy, this now leaves us with another question. What do I do when I run out of sick leaves for the year?
Worry not because the Social Security System (SSS) has your back! When you have already exhausted all your paid sick leaves and service incentive leaves, you can apply for SSS Sickness Benefit where you can temporarily claim 90% of your regular salary.
The program, SSS Sickness Benefit by SSS pays for all the days you won’t be able to work—this includes weekends and holidays. However, it is important to note that it only covers your 120 days in one year.
To qualify for the SSS Sickness Benefit, you must be an SSS member and have paid at least three months of contributions within 12 months prior to having the sickness. It is also necessary that all paid leaves are already exhausted and still won’t be able to work for at least 4 days.
To apply, just inform your employer that you wish to apply for the SSS Sickness Benefit because they will be the ones to forward your application to the SSS.
Once approved, the salary from the said program will then be forwarded to the employer, which will be given to you.
No matter how we try to take care of our bodies, circumstances sometimes get us taken aback for having sickness. And it is important that we know the benefits that we are entitled to, especially when we get sick. This allows us to know exactly what measures we should take.