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House OKs 35-hour work week on 2nd reading

THE House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill seeking to reduce the average weekly 40-hour work schedule to 35-hour for employees in the private sector.

House Bill (HB) 309 is authored by House committee on ways and means chairman and economic recovery cluster co-chair Joey Sarte Salceda.

Voting via voce, the House approved the measure seeking to allow employees in the private sector to work for 35 hours a week maximum as an alternative work arrangement.

“Length of stay in the workplace does not necessarily equate productivity, and we have known that now to be true in the age of work-from-home,” Salceda said, commenting on the approval of his bill.

“Flexibility in workplaces accommodated the special needs of families, mothers, and older workers. Shorter worker hours saved on utility bills, and resulted in fewer cars on the road during rush hours,” Salceda said.

“This should be understood in the context of our comprehensive effort to make the economy more skills-based and more output-based,” Salceda added, citing his 21st Century Skills Act and Comprehensive Education Reform Agenda bills.

Salceda said his reforms seek to break down “so many false assumptions about productivity.

Under the bill, employers may implement a 35-hour workweek scheme, provided that terms and conditions agreed upon are not less than the minimum labor standards set by law.

The employer shall ensure that employees working for 35 hours a week shall receive rate of pay, including overtime, night shift differential, and other similar benefits; have the right to rest periods; and be provided by the employer with written information on the terms and conditions of the 35-hour working week scheme and the responsibilities of the employees.

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.