Managing Public Holidays in the Philippines

Angela McDonald • 11/04/2018

In the Philippines, people love to celebrate customs and traditions. With a rich history and diverse culture, there’s a lot to celebrate and be thankful for.

As a business owner, you may think public holidays are a bit of a pain, particularly if you are running offices in different countries. But by understanding your options and with planning, you can minimise the impact.

Be aware of your obligations

With the Filipino culture observing more public holidays than New Zealand and Australia, you may require your staff to work to your local holiday structure. If this is the case, it is important to understand your legal obligations regarding worker rights.

In the Philippines, they have two classifications of public holidays both of which allow time off with regular pay. Regular Holidays are fixed dates in the calendar. If your staff are required to work, your business will be required to pay 100% premium of their regular wage.

Secondly, there are special non-working holidays, these holidays move around from time to time and can be declared with little notice. If you do need your staff do work on these days, you are required to pay an additional 30% of their regular wage.

If you wish to have your team follow a calendar that is more aligned with New Zealand or Australian public holidays, this can be arranged. However, to avoid confusion and set expectations, it is important that details are agreed upon from the outset and the correct premium is added when applicable.  We are happy to guide you through your obligations should you need further information.

We recommend an agreement with your employees to work on the special non-working holidays as these are the ones that can pop up at short notice. If you do wish to give your team member the day off and not pay the premium, that’s fine. However, it’s better to be prepared for cover than to get caught out.

Understand the big picture

To ensure you can plan accordingly around Filipino public holidays, it is wise to create a master schedule that clearly maps out exact dates of both your local and remote team.

With many of the public holidays observed in the Philippines held at the same time each year scheduling these dates is simple. Planning for the special non-working holidays can be the challenge.

It is also a good idea to understand your staff and their personal calendar, especially regarding religious customs.

A master calendar will not only help you plan your workflow and potential deadlines but also factor in any potential wages increases you may incur.

Adapt your work schedule

Once you have created a master calendar, your business will be able to mould workflow and deadlines around the availability of staff to make informed decisions regarding your output.

For example, if you have a web development team in the Philippines, putting a website live the day before a public holiday is not advisable as any arising issues will not be addressed for an entire business day or long weekend. Although, if you have advance notice, you can ask your team to work on those days if they are free.

Ultimately, having a clear understanding of the long and short-term picture will help your business minimise any negative impact on workflow.

Carefully plan leave

We recommend that you allow 15 days leave each year and 10 days of sick leave. Unlike New Zealand and Australia, it is common for Filipino offices to remain in operation over the Christmas period, with the exception of the recognised public holidays. If you have a shutdown period during this time, you may require your Filipino team to take forced leave during this period. Best practice is to inform us of your closure dates at the earliest instance so we can accrue your team’s leave to cover these dates.

If your team is observing Filipino public holidays, it is important to know when these days fall in accordance with requested leave. You don’t want to be caught out by granting your team member leave on a Monday and Tuesday to realise the rest of the week is recognised holidays.

Understand Filipino culture

The Philippines has an interesting history and rich culture. Being a predominantly Catholic nation, many of the holidays are related to events on the religious calendar.  Getting to know your team and the holidays they celebrate will make them feel valued. It will also give you a better understanding of the holidays that are important to your staff.

If you would like help tailoring a structure that works for you while meeting your legal obligations, feel free to give us a call.

Download your free calendar to stay on track of public holidays in the Philippines.