Is the 4-Day Work Week Ideal in the Philippines?
The whole country is now put into a test. As the Philippine government exerts effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, nearly all companies in Metro Manila are under work from home and flexible work arrangements.
A few recommendations to the House of Representatives have been made to permanently shorten the workweek here in the Philippines, even after the pandemic is over. Under existing laws for private sectors, an employer can require an employee to report to work for at least six days a week, giving employees only one full day of rest in the same week. For government employees, at least 40 hours a week is required.
Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. proposed that the workweek should be reduced to four days. This shortened workweek will help lessen an employee’s daily expenses for transportation and ease the heavy traffic in the Metro. It will also provide for longer rest time, which is favorable for developing a healthy work-life balance.
But even without a law mandating the four-day workweek, an employer has the option to voluntarily implement a Compressed Workweek and Flexible Work Arrangement, as long as they follow the guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through Department Advisory No. 4 Series of 2010 to avoid any violation. An employer should also put in mind that the mandatory benefits of the employees shall not be reduced due to the implementation of such work arrangement.
Establishing a new work scheme should require a few considerations, but a creative workforce and operations analysis can make it happen. Having this in place can be an edge for businesses to attract the best talent and will increase their competitiveness and productivity. Most professionals agree with implementing the four-day workweek, and recent studies showed that employees are happier and more productive under this flexible work scheme.
A downside to adopting this flexible work arrangement is that part of the Philippine workforce, those paid under a “no work, no pay” scheme, or commonly known as daily paid employees, will have lesser work for a week and lower take-home pay. To mitigate this, the government should create special laws to protect their interests and disallow their employers from taking ill advantage of the new work scheme.
A four-day workweek is not a one size fits all; it may not be the right fit for every business. Companies must assess how the arrangement will be smoothly integrated into their organizational structure, without affecting their internal workflows and employer-employee relations.
In these trying times, let us gather all the information we can use and assess if our organizations can pioneer a shortened workweek. Let’s look into it as an opportunity to prepare for a “new normal”, should companies collectively consider shifting their work schemes after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.