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4-day workweek proposal reviewed

Malacañang on Thursday said it would study a proposal that will allow private sector and non-frontline government agencies to implement a four-day workweek during the holiday season.

Salvador Panelo

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. revived the appeal for the implementation of a shortened workweek to help ease traffic congestion.

“We will evaluate all recommendations coming from any department or agency desiring to recommend,” Panelo said in a text message.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Abante said drastic measures should be put up to address the expected heavy traffic during the Christmas season.

“I appeal to Malacañang to study the implementation of a four-day workweek for non-frontline offices of national government agencies,” Abante said.

“I suggest that the Palace considers the feasibility of doing this during the holiday season.

This could also serve as a trial period to assess if such a scheme can work long-term,” he added.

Abante said agencies located near EDSA could implement the compressed workweek system such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

“Microsoft recently experimented with a four-day workweek in one of its subsidiaries in Japan, and they discovered that this led to a 40-percent boost in productivity,” he said. “It worked there, it could work here.”

A couple of bills that seek to compress the five-day workweek have been filed in the House of Representatives.

House Bills 1670 and 1904 propose to shorten workdays as long as employees meet the prescribed hours within the week. The scheme, however, is optional.

The bills filed by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Baguio City Rep. Mark Go are pending at the Labor and Employment committee.

Labor groups have expressed concern over the proposal, saying workers would be at the losing end.

The House committee has tasked a technical working group to study the bills and come up with a proposal acceptable to employer and labor groups.

The Labor Code requires employees to render 40 to 48 hours a week.

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