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4-day work week not a new idea

/ 03:12 AM October 03, 2014

Even as the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has promulgated a resolution giving government agencies in Metro Manila “blanket approval” to implement, on a voluntary basis, a four-day work week scheme in response to the worsening traffic situation (“4-day work week for gov’t offices OK’d,” Metro, (9/26/14), I believe there is still a need for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue the necessary implementing guidelines. That is for the simple reason that the four-day workweek, also referred to as CWW (compressed work week), entails a waiver by the employee of his right to overtime pay as provided in the Labor Code. And that discretion solely belongs to DOLE!

Strictly speaking, an employee is entitled to overtime pay under both, not either, of two circumstances: for work in excess of eight hours per day, and for work in excess of 40 hours per week. This applies to both public and private employees; and while the CSC has jurisdiction only over the first, DOLE certainly has jurisdiction over both.

The plain truth is, the CWW concept is nothing new in these parts. As far back as I can recall, the present proposal is at least the third of its kind, although the first two were essentially intended for private sector employees. Department Order No. 021, titled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the CWW” dated Aug. 31, 1990, was issued by DOLE for the specific purpose of averting further damage to the economy as brought about by the oil crisis at that time.

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Then came DOLE Advisory No. 22 on Dec. 2, 2004, this time implementing a CWW scheme whose specific rationale, among other things, was to ensure the safety and health of employees and encourage their competitiveness and productivity, after taking into account the emergence of new technology and the modernization of the working processes in various business establishments. Whether or not many, or only a few, companies availed themselves of these two CWW schemes is beside the point.

What matters more are two considerations: First, both schemes allow employers to ignore, and employees to waive, the overtime pay for work beyond eight hours per day, provided the total number of work hours per week does not exceed 40; and second, there is a need for a separate DOLE advisory or guideline every time a CWW is needed to be pursued for an entirely different objective. In other words, this waiver of overtime pay for work beyond eight hours per day can be allowed only by DOLE, specifically and strictly on case-by-case basis.

Well, the four-day workweek scheme now at hand is for an entirely different objective: to minimize traffic congestion in the metropolis. Why doesn’t DOLE appear involved? Ah, maybe, just maybe, DOLE—like this writer and unlike the CSC and the Metro Manila Development Authority—is not convinced that the scheme would really cure our worsening traffic woes.

—RUDY L. CORONEL,

rudycoronel2004@gmail.com

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TAGS: Blanket Approval, civil service commission, Compressed Work Week, CSC, Department of Labor and Employment, DOLE, Labor Code, Metro Manila
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