GERONIMO, ELVIRA U.
Re: Rehabilitation Leave
RESOLUTION NO. 000735
Elvira U. Geronimo, Senior Vice President (SVP) Administration Group, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), requests clarification on the matter of rehabilitation leave as provided for in Section 55 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998.
Her query is as follows:
"During a consultative meeting with our Medical Service Staff, a concern was raised if said leave and attendant benefits (reimbursement of expenses for medical attendance, necessary transportation, subsistence and hospital fees) are either.
"1. Separate and distinct from EC and Medicare, in which case there may arise cases of double compensation/reimbursement; or
"2. In addition to EC and Medicare, in which case only the difference will be paid?
"In addition, we would like to be properly guided on the following:
"1. Is the full pay mentioned for said leave referring to just the basic salary or does it include any and all allowances?
"2. What will be the rate for computing the subsistence allowance?
"3. Is medical attendance limited to doctors fees or may it include other paramedical charges?"
Section 55 of CSC MC 41, s. 1998 reads as follows:
"Section 55. Rehabilitation leave for job-related injuries. Applications of officials and employees for leave of absence on account of wounds or injuries incurred in the performance of duty must be made on the prescribed form, supported by the proper medical certificate and evidence showing that the wounds or injuries were incurred in the performance of duty. The head of department/agency concerned shall direct that absence of an employee during his period of disability thus occasioned shall be on full pay, but not to exceed six (6) months. He shall also authorize the payment of medical attendance, necessary transportation, subsistence and hospital fees of the injured person. Absence in the case contemplated shall not be charged against sick leave or vacation leave, if there are any."
It may be mentioned that this provision was part of the Old Administrative Code (Republic Act No. 1232) and was precisely retained in Rule XVI Implementing Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 pursuant to the commitment of the Commission to promote a more humanizing bureaucracy.
We see no conflict with rehabilitation leave vis-a-vis the employee compensation and medicare benefits. To begin with, it is not the intent of the Commission under this provision to provide additional avenue of recovery of expenses over and above those provided by the GSIS and private health or medical insurance company as well as the employee compensation, even if double recovery is not frowned at by law. The rationale of rehabilitation leave is that when a job-related accident happens, the first one that is expected to extend a helping hand is the agency-employer before any other agency of government can take over, such as, GSIS and/or Employee Compensation Commission.
Under this provision, the agency-employer is expected to ensure that the employee is given adequate first aid treatment, especially so if the contingency took place in the premises of the agency. In line with this thinking, the transport of the employee-patient from the office or place of accident to the hospital or clinic as well as the medical expenses incurred during the period of such first aid treatment shall be borne by the agency-employer, without prejudice to the recovery of the employee from the Medicare and other government institutions. However, it is primordial for the purpose of reimbursement that expenses incurred are supported by documents.
However, subsequent expense/s on medical attendance and transportation beyond the purpose of first aid treatment are not covered under this section. Accordingly, the question of SVP Geronimo on whether paramedical expenses are included within the context of rehabilitation leave is answered in the negative.
The most important feature of rehabilitation leave is the provision that absence from work for not more than six (6) months for the purpose of medical treatment/rehabilitation/recuperation shall be with pay. In CSC Resolution No. 99-1606 dated July 20, 1999, the Commission ruled:
"On account of the aforequoted rule, Arsenio et al. claims that employees who are recuperating from injuries incurred while in the performance of their official duties but who have accrued leave credits are being placed in a very disadvantageous position. This is so because during their recuperation, they have to exhaust first of all their respective leave credits before they could avail of full pay of not exceeding six months. On the other hand, employees who have no leave credits at all before incurring said injuries will outrightly entitle them to full pay while undergoing medical rehabilitation.
"It is understandable if Arsenio, et al were made to believe that they must first exhaust all of their leave credits before they are entitled to full pay while undergoing medical rehabilitation. It should be stressed, however, that nowhere in the abovequoted Section 19 does it mandate that an employee who is undergoing medical treatment and recuperation for injuries incurred while in the performance of official duty must first exhaust his leave credits before he could be entitled to full pay and other benefits. Be that as it may, the said Section 19 and already been clarified by Section 55 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave (CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998) which provides as follows:
x x x
"It should be noted that the phrase 'extending beyond the available leave credits of the employee concerned as appearing in the earlier quoted Section 19 was deleted in the aforecited rule. Be it noted also that a new proviso was added which categorically states that absence in the case contemplated shall not be charged against sick or vacation leave. Thus, it is now exceedingly clear that any official or employee who incurs injuries in the performance of his official functions requiring medical treatment and rehabilitation shall be entitled, as a matter of right, to the payment of salaries and other benefits during the period of his recuperation without the need of first exhausting his accrued leave credits. And in addition to these, they are also entitled to the payment of medical attendance, necessary transportation, subsistence and hospital fees. Said official or employee, however, is entitled to the payment of his salaries and other benefits only for a period of six (6) months.
"Accordingly, in the case of Arsenio et al., they are entitled to full pay during the period of their medical treatment and recuperation, provided that the same shall not exceed six months. x x x Hence, any absence which were deducted from their respective leave credits should be restored.
"Wherefore, the request of Rhodora C. Arsenio et al., is hereby granted. Accordingly, the Commission rules that Arsenio et el. are entitled to full pay and other benefits during the period of their medical treatment and recuperation provided that the same shall not exceed six (6) months. x x x The DECS is directed to immediately restore all leaves deducted from their respective leave credits." (underscoring supplied)
Another question posed by SVP Geronimo pertains to other entitlements under the rehabilitation leave, one of which is whether allowances are included in the basic salary and how subsistence allowance is to be computed or determined.
The subsistence allowance to be received by the employees under the rehabilitation leave refers to the allowances, such as PERA and the ACA attached to the employees basic pay. In other words, the entitlement covers not only the basic salary of the employee but also his allowances, serving as the subsistence allowance. However, it is important to mention that in CSC Resolution No. 98-2936 dated November 12, 1998, the Commission said "We believe that the phrase 'while in the actual performance of their respective positions refers to cases when the employee who are entitled to the RATA are on vacation leave with or without pay, sick leave with or without pay, maternity leaves, on secondment and other instances of this nature. In these cases, said employees are not in the actual performance of their function and may be replaced temporarily. the replacements , in turn should receive the RATA. x x x"
WHEREFORE, the Commission rules that under Section 55 of Rule XVI of the Implementing Rules of the Administrative Code of 1987 (EO 292), a qualified employee is entitled to the following:
- Leave with pay and usual allowances (subsistence allowance), except RATA, for not more than six (6) months.
- Transportation and medical expenses related to injured employees first aid treatment.
Quezon City, MAR 22 2000