House panel approves committee report on 35-hour work week proposal

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2020 09:06 PM

A proposal to reduce the weekly work schedule for employees in the private sector has been approved by the House Committee on Labor and Employment. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A committee report on the proposal to reduce the weekly work schedule for employees in the private sector was approved by the House Committee on Labor and Employment on Wednesday.

Under House Bill No. 309 authored by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, employees in the private sector will work for 35 hours a week maximum as an alternative work arrangement.

In the explanatory note, Salceda cited studies showing that a more flexible workweek actually increases productivity of workers and, in turn, strengthens the economy.

The lawmaker, who stressed that implementing the measure is voluntary, added that it is also seen to help in easing traffic in Metro Manila.

“This traffic, because of our population density, will be with us. It’s better if we make them (workers) more productive with a 35-hour workweek rather than trying to force them to do an 8-hour a day work week, then lose much of it to traffic,” Salceda said.

“Nakita ko kasi sa pag-aaral sa abroad, mas malaki by 4 per annum ang GDP (gross domestic product) arising from productivity if you adopt a shorter workweek,” he added.

Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, vice-chairperson of the committee, objected to the bill but was outvoted. He explained that "there will be no diminution of benefit, including overtime pay" if the reduction of hours is implemented.

“If they work 4 days a week with 35 hours per week, you will have a situation where they work more than 8 hours per day. If they follow the same provision, they will be paid overtime,” he said.

Go preferred his House Bill No. 1338, which would allow increasing the normal work hours per day under a compressed workweek scheme. It seeks to amend Articles 83, 87 and 91 of the Philippine Labor Code, which compensates work performed beyond 8 hours a day. 

Under Go’s proposal, overtime pay will kick in only when work rendered for the week exceeds the total number of hours under a compressed work schedule.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines supports the bill, but some labor groups are against it. The committee will tackle Go’s bill again in another meeting.

“We still have a deadlock, so may I request all the resource persons, including DOLE to submit their respective position papers regarding this house bill,” said 1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda, chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment.