Thursday, May 28, 2020

NAGKAISA endorses 35-hour workweek; rejects compressed work week with over 8 hours a day work without overtime pay

The NAGKAISA welcomes the proposal to reduce the workweek schedule of private-sector employees to 35 hours on voluntary basis under House Bill 309 authored by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda. His bill's explanatory note cited studies showing that a more flexible workweek increases the productivity of workers, and benefits the economy in the long run.

NAGKAISA supports HB 309 because it is not new. Shortened hours of work from 8 to 6 hours are already observed in France, Denmark, Sweden, and other Scandinavian countries. As example: workers of Toyota company in Gothenburg, Sweden, who worked 6-hours a day are happier and more efficient and productive.

Toyota, which pioneered this 6-hour workday concept, reported that in their 15 years or more of this experience, they've had higher profits, better production, and quality. (BBC, 27 September 2015; Guardian, 17 September 2015).

NAGKAISA, however, suggests that a non-diminution of benefit provision be added in Section 1 of the Bill, as the workers shall have the equivalent workload, and the same performance standards as those working for 8 hours a day.

NAGKAISA, on the other hand, opposes House Bill No. 1338 proposing a compressed workweek allowing more than 8 up to 12 hours work a day, without overtime pay.

Such a proposal, if it becomes law, would take a heavy toll on majority of our workers. It would not be good for the health and safety of workers, especially if they do physical work like those in construction, and those jobs that rely on physical stamina like masons and bus drivers.

NAGKAISA is covinced that though perhaps tolerable for a few days, working for 10 to 12 hours, would be detrimental to workers in the long run. Working 12 hours, plus going thru traffic of 4 hours, or a total of 17 hours of toil a day, for 4 straight days a week, will dangerously affect workers' health and safety.

The Philippines had signed and ratified International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 1 of 1919. ILC No. 1 limits the number of work hours in the industrial sectors to 8 hours a day, or 48 hours a week. This covers mines, factories, and other manufacturing firms. Legislating HB 1338 will be legislating violation of ILO Conv No. 1.

Workers also may run into family and childcare problems working longer hours a day, even though a three-day weekend rest might be quite tempting to some.

After the lockdown, under the 8-hour workday, one arrives home at 9 or 10 PM from work (because of heavy traffic on the road). The increase of 2 to four 4 hours on the road will make child care difficult or no longer possible for working parents with kids or children.

Under the existing DOLE Labor Advisory No. 4,Series of 2010, defines the compressed workweek as a flexible work arrangement where the normal workweek is reduced to less than six days, but the total number of work hours per week shall remain at 48 hours.

This advisory is feasible because it is voluntary, thus subject to agreement between workers and employers. The voluntary agreement serves as a legal basis for working beyond 12 hours a day without a corresponding overtime premium. And the reason/s on which the agreement is/are based rest/s solely on the agreement of the parties, not on pandemics or any other national emergencies.

Finally, studies have pointed out that working long hours regularly, offer no long term benefits to an employee. On the contrary, it provides many negative outcomes found by previous scholars, like health problems, increased medical costs, decreased productivity, reduced quality of work/job performance, lower job commitment, higher job turnover, etc.

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