THE House of Representatives yesterday approved on second reading a bill reducing work hours in the private sector from 40 hours a week to 35 hours “to promote not only higher levels of productivity but also the welfare of workers.”
Congressmen approved via voice voting House Bill No. 309 which was principally authored by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means.
Under the bill, an employer in the private sector may, upon request of its employees or on a voluntary basis, implement a 35-hour working week arrangement “upon such terms and condition as they may mutually agree upon, including arrangements for flexible working time, provided that such terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum standards set by law.”
“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.
The bill requires employers to ensure that the employees under the 35-hour working week scheme shall receive a rate of pay, including overtime, night shift differential and other similar monetary benefits, not lower than those provided in applicable laws and collective bargaining agreements and have the right to rest periods as provided for by law.
The employees should have equivalent workload and the same performance as those of comparable employees in the company and be provided by the employer with a written information on the terms and conditions of the 35-hours working week scheme and the corresponding responsibilities of the employees under the arrangement.
The bill provides that differences between employers and employees should be resolved under the grievance mechanism of the company or referred to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in case the mediation fails.