Outsourcing companies in the Philippines choose to provide paid time off to their employees in the event of a medical emergency or an illness because it's the right thing to do. Sick and vacation leaves are not specifically stated under Philippine law, but private companies are allowed to provide their employees paid service incentive leave of up to five days in a year.
General Practice on Medical Emergency or Sick Leave
In practice, employees who have worked with the company for 12 months or more can just call, email or message their superiors of an impending cold or a stomach flu at least an hour before their shift starts.
But, what about probationary employees? Do they get this kind of leave benefit, too? Unfortunately, they don't and that's why many companies take advantage of this vulnerability. They only employ contractual workers for 5 months and let them go before they can become regular employees on their sixth month.
What is No Fault Medical Leave?
Rather than extend an employee's work hours to compensate for the ones lost due to illness or a family emergency, many outsourcing companies implement a no-fault medical leave policy. This policy allows employees to take time off to recover from an illness or to take care of a sick family member without fear of repercussions, such as forced overtime work.
Some companies require medical certificates for absences lasting more than 5 days or in some instances for 3-day absences, it all depends on company policy. In some cases, a half-day sick leave may be filed after the employee goes back to work and he or she does not have to worry about salary deductions.
To enact a no-fault medical leave policy, the company may require an employee to present a medical certificate and/or some other proof of an illness, such as a medical prescription or receipt from the pharmacy. Another option is to allow the employee to leave work early because of an emergency, but with the agreement that the undertime hours will not be paid.
The Importance of No-Fault Medical Leave Policy to Outsourcing Workers
Call center agents and others like them who work in the outsourcing industry are more vulnerable to a variety of illnesses than workers in other industries. The nature of an outsourcing worker's job puts them at risk for respiratory, auditory, and muscle and joint problems, among other health issues. They're usually at work even when the rest of the city have to go home because of a typhoon and the streets are flooded.
Among their peers, night-shift workers face a greater number of health problems than day-shift workers. They usually don't get enough sleep during the day. And, they're likely to adopt unhealthy lifestyle choices to cope with the stress at work and the consequences of their night owl existence.
This does not mean, however, that employees can just willy-nilly take a day off anytime they like. The actual number of days for a service incentive leave may vary from company to company, but all these leaves may be used up by the end of the year. Going beyond the limit is discouraged, but not unheard of in cases where the employee has to be hospitalized.
In cases where the employee fails to present a medical certificate, he or she may be summoned by the management to explain the long absence. Once the employee has been absent for 3 consecutive days, he or she may be marked as AWOL or absent without leave.
For those who rarely get sick, they're rewarded with the option of converting 5 days of their unused service incentive leave into cash and have the amount added to their year-end bonuses. If the employee decides to forgo this conversion, he or she can accumulate the number of days each year, and use them all up in one go for a much-needed vacation.