November 20 ------ The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill instituting a 35-hour work week scheme as an alternative arrangement for employees in the private sector. Authored by Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Bill 309 is expected to be passed on third and final reading before the Yuletide season. 1PACMAN Partylist Rep. Enrico Pineda, chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, sponsored the bill on the floor. He strongly appealed for passage of the measure.
Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the bill will allow employees in the private sector to work for 35 hours per week, saying that this is line with the policy of the State to promote “not only higher levels of productivity but also the welfare of workers.” “With this bill, this representation envisions a more robust economy, and happier workers in healthier workplaces,” said Salceda. Under the bill, a 35-hour working week arrangement will be implemented upon the request of the employees or if the employers want to.
HB 309 provides that under a 35-hour working week scheme, employees should be guaranteed the following:
1. A rate of pay, including overtime, night shift differential and other similar monetary benefits, not lower than those guaranteed under the law or the collective bargaining agreements;
2. Continue to be granted rest periods as provided for by law
3. To have equivalent workload and the same performance standards comparable to other employees in the same company
4. Be provided by the employer with written information on the terms and conditions of the 35-hour working week schemes.
In cases of conflict between employers and employees on the said alternative working arrangement, the bill states that differences should be resolved under the grievance mechanism of the company. However, for those without grievance machinery or whose mechanisms are inadequate, the grievance shall be referred to the Department of Labor and Employment.
Under current labor laws, a work week schedule totals 40 hours. “Flexibility in workplaces accommodated the special needs of families, mothers, and older workers. Shorter work hours saved on utility bills, and resulted in fewer cars on the road during rush hours,” Salceda said. The Bicolano solon added: “This should be understood in the context of our comprehensive effort to make the economy more skills-based and more output-based.”