President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with key government officials prior to his “Talk to the People” at the Malacañan Palace on March 21, 2022. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 22 (Mabuhay) — A proposal to implement a four-day workweek would help workers both in the private and public sectors amid the high prices of oil and commodities, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said on Monday.

“Mainam na may mga ganitong panukala para na rin matulungan natin iyong mga manggagawa, lalung-lalo na ngayong tumataas po iyong presyo ng gasolina at iba pang commodities (It is good to have these kinds of measures so that we can help our workers, especially now that the prices of gasoline and other commodities are rising),” Benavidez said at the Laging Handa briefing.

Benavidez said the four-day workweek scheme is not new, having been adopted in the country during the financial crisis.

He said it is an alternative work arrangement (AWA) that can be implemented both in the private and public sectors.

“Its implementation in private companies is part of what we call management prerogative while its implementation in the public sector, we defer to the Civil Service Commission (CSC). But in the past, this type of work arrangement has also been implemented in other government offices,” he added.

An official of the CSC thumbed up the four-day proposal.

“Matagal na pong suportado ng CSC ang four-day workweek. Sa katunayan, may na-issue po kaming CSC MC (Memorandum Circular) No. 18 Series of 2020 pa po ito (The CSC supports the four-day workweek even before. Actually, we have issued CSC MC No. 18 series of 2020), dated Oct. 15, 2020,” CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada said in a televised public briefing on Monday.

Lizada said the MC covers all heads of constitutional bodies, departments, bureaus, and agencies of the national government, local government units, government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and state universities and colleges.

It is an amendment to the revised interims rules for and guidelines for AWA during the period of state of public health and emergency due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“Ang validity po nito ay hanggang sa declaration po ng (Its validity is until the declaration of) public state of emergency which will end on Sept. 10, 2022,” she said.

Schedule

To ensure government services are not affected, agencies must make sure their offices are not unmanned and that the working days would be based on the decision of the human resources department and heads of agencies or local chief executives, Lizada said.

“So, puwede ho iyong Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday pero hindi puwedeng isang araw na walang empleyado (this could be Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday but there should not be a day without employees in the office),” she said.

As the workweek is compressed, Lizada reminded the heads of government offices to consider the mental health, wellness, and work-life balance of government employees as “10 hours in the office could be very challenging”.

She advised the four-day workweek can be mixed with a work from home scheme.

Benavidez said it would be up to the private companies to adopt the proposed work arrangement temporarily or for good.

“If they adopt it permanently, I think they will add people because if they are in a 24/7 operation, they need more people, they will be hiring more workers,” he said. “Now, if they are only going to use it for a short period of time, let’s make sure that they have transition plans for changing work schedules and work arrangements and that our workers are not overly affected or aggravated by changing work arrangements.”

He said employers can implement either a compressed workweek or reduced working days in a week.

“We compress the normal workweek from six days to four days, but at the same time, we still retain your normal hours of work,” he said. “The second thing employers can do is to reduce your workdays. If a company implements a reduction of workdays, there will be a reduction in wages.” (MNS)

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