I work for a multinational company. At present, the work schedule in our company is the usual 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift. We, however, have been hearing news that the company is planning to change our work schedule to a graveyard shift where work will start late at night and end early in the morning the following day. Can the company do it? Do we, as employees, not have a say in it?
Employers are granted reasonable leeway in directing the affairs of their business and to make business decisions in accordance with their own independent judgment that are collectively referred to as management prerogative. It entails the right to regulate all aspects of employment, including the freedom to prescribe work assignments, working methods, processes to be followed, regulation regarding transfer of employees, supervision of their work, lay-off and discipline and dismissal and recall of work (Goya Inc. vs. Goya, Inc. Employees Union-FFW, 689 SCRA 1). This includes changing of working hours (Union Carbide Labor Union vs. Union Carbide Philippines, 215 SCRA 554). Hence, your employer has the power to change your work schedule.
Nevertheless, there are conditions that an employer has to comply with before changing working hours. For one, as in all cases involving the use of management prerogative, it must be exercised in good faith for the advancement of the employer’s interest, not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws or under valid agreements (Ibid. citing San Miguel Brewery Sales Force Union (PTGWO) vs. Ople, 170 SCRA 25).
Moreover, Article 161 of the Labor Code mandates that “before introducing work schedules requiring the services of night workers, the employer shall consult the workers’ representatives/labor organizations concerned on the details of such schedules and the forms of organization of night work that are best adapted to the establishment and its personnel, as well as on the occupational health measures and social services that are required. In establishments employing night workers, consultation shall take place regularly” (as amended by Republic Act or RA 10151). Under the law, a night worker means any employed person whose work covers the period from 10 o’clock in the evening to 6 o’clock in the morning, provided that the worker performs no less than seven consecutive hours of work (Sec. 2, Department Order No. 119-12, Series of 2012)
Applying the foregoing to your case, while your company has the prerogative to change your work schedule, it is incumbent upon it to show that such decision is made in good faith and is not intended to circumvent your rights as employees of the company. Moreover, you company has to comply with the mandate of the Labor Code and conduct a consultation with the workers’ representatives or labor organizations.
Failure to abide by the foregoing rules may subject your company to legal responsibility for violation of pertinent laws including a criminal case for violation of the provisions of RA 10151 and its implementing rules pursuant to Section 8 of the said law. In such a case, the guilty officers of the company shall be held criminally responsible.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com