A couple of weeks ago, I joined my husband in their consular mission in Istanbul. It was an eye-opening experience, not only to the successes and struggles of Filipino migrant workers but also to the dedication of our foreign service team here in Turkey. Seeing them of service to Filipinos here made me miss my work back home even more. Anyway, on our way back to Ankara, one of my husband’s colleagues mentioned something about study leave which caught my attention. I realized that despite the popularity of this type of leave, there are still many misconceptions about it. Hence, this blog. Read on for more information about study leave in the Philippine civil service.
What is study leave?
Study leave is a time-off from work with pay for qualified officials and employees (except teachers who are covered by different rules). It is intended to help them prepare for their bar or board examinations or to complete their master’s degree.
What are the requirements before one can avail of study leave?
The beneficiary of a study leave must meet the following requirements:
a) He/she must have a bachelor’s degree that requires the passing of a bar/board licensure examination for the practice of profession;
b) The profession or field of study to be pursued must be relevant to the agency’s mandate, or to his/her duties and responsibilities;
c) He/she must have rendered at least two (2) years of service with at least very satisfactory performance for the last two rating periods immediately preceding the application;
d) He/she must have no pending administrative case and/or criminal charges;
e) He/she must not have any current foreign or local scholarship grant;
f) He/she must have fulfilled the service obligation of any previous training/scholarship/study leave grant; and
g) He/she must have a permanent appointment.
What is the duration of a study leave?
A study leave can be taken for a maximum of six (6) months, except when it is for the completion of a master’s degree where the leave can only be for a maximum of four (4) months.
Can I extend my study leave?
If the maximum of six/four months has been availed, no extension can be granted. If you need more time to complete your studies, you need to file a leave of absence which will be charged against your available vacation leave credits.
I am a coterminous appointee, can I also avail of this leave?
As a rule, only permanent employees can avail of study leave. However, the CSC recognized that the purpose of granting a study leave is to develop competent and efficient employees who will eventually help improve the delivery of public services. For that reason, employees with coterminous appointments are allowed to avail of the leave for as long as – 1) All other requirements, except the permanent appointment, is met; 2) You would be able to fulfill the required service obligation; and 3) You are not related to the head of agency (or to any member of a collegial board/body, in case of constitutional offices/similar agencies) within the 4th degree of affinity or consanguinity.
If I avail of study leave, how long will my service obligation be?
Your service obligation will depend on the period granted as study leave:
|Period of Grant||Service Obligation|
|One month||Six months
|Two-three months||One year|
|More than three months to six months||Two years|
What are the consequences if I don’t fulfill my service obligation?
If you fail to render in full the service obligation required because of voluntary resignation, optional retirement, expiration of term for coterminous employees, or other modes of separation from the service through own fault/control, you will be required to refund to your agency the gross amount of salary, allowances, and benefits received while on study leave, in proportion to the balance of the required service obligation. The formula used is:
I was granted study leave to review for the bar examination but I did not take the exam. Will I be required to refund the salaries, benefits, and allowances I received while on study leave?
Yes. The study leave is covered by a contract between the agency and the employee-beneficiary. The contract is premised on your taking the bar exams, which is the main consideration in approving the study leave. The failure to take the bar exams for reasons within your control is is a breach of the contract and thus, you must refund. (CSC Resolution No. 040074, Joel T. Allian, January 27, 2004)
I am pregnant and will be giving birth while my study leave is in effect. Can I still avail of maternity leave benefits?
No. Unlike those in the teaching profession, employees who are on study leave earn leave credits. To allow an employee who is on study leave with pay to claim the maternity leave benefits would amount to double compensation which is not allowed under the 1987 Constitution and the Administrative Code of 1987. (CSC Resolution No. 020576, Ginalyn Sacmar-Badiola, April 18, 2002)
Can study leave be granted to an employee who will take a licensure examination for a profession which is not related to the position which he/she holds?
Generally, the rules require that the profession must be relevant to the duties or functions of the employee. However, there are instances when an equitable construction of the rules may be adopted in order to accomplish a greater purpose. These are instances when the interest of justice calls for a liberal interpretation of a given law or rule. Equally important is the personal and professional growth of an employee in having another opportunity to pursue further his/her dreams, without having to worry about her/his means of livelihood for the period that he/she will not be reporting for work. Ultimately, the study leave grant’s proximate objective is the professionalization of the bureaucracy, which beneficial effects shall redound to the best interest of both parties, i.e. the agency-grantor as well as the employee-grantee concerned. BUT, the grant of study leave is subject to the discretion of the agency head based on the exigencies of the service. (CSC Resolution No. 020711, Lynn Leparto-Yangzon, May 16, 2002)
I availed of study leave without pay for the bar exams because I did not know that it should be with pay. I subsequently appealed to my agency head so that my previous leave be with pay. My appeal was approved. Can I still be paid my salaries and benefits for the duration of my study leave?
Yes. For as long as you meet all the requirements for study leave and your agency approved your application, the payment of salaries and benefits during the period of study leave is inevitable. It is immaterial whether the application for study leave was approved after the leave was consummated. As long as the application was approved by the agency head, the approval can be applied retroactively since it is beneficial to both the agency and the employee. (CSC Resolution No. 1500400, Nathaniel Jan G. Celiz, March 25, 2015)
Can an employee who is to complete a Doctoral Degree avail of Study Leave Benefits?
Yes. The rule, in its strict sense, allows only study leave for the completion of Masteral and not Doctoral degree. However, a liberal construction can be made to enable employees to pursue their dreams for personal and professional growth, which will eventually benefit the agency-grantor. (CSC Resolution No. 1100830, Jose Manuel M. Curio, June 21, 2011)
Source: CSC Memorandum Circular No. 21, s. 2004. You may download the file here.