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Is a four-day workweek going to work?

Is a four-day workweek going to work?


Last week, the Congress passed a bill allowing employees to work for only four days in a week. That extends the two-day weekend to three. And man, does this kind of week division make work seem less grueling. But is it really?

Approved with no dissensions of abstentions in the House of Representatives, House Bill (HB) No. 6152 or “An Act Increasing the Normal Work Hours Per Day Under a Compressed Work Week Scheme,” however adds two or four more hours in a working day. It amends some parts of our Labor Code (particularly Articles 83, 87, and 91) which require employees to work 40 to 48 hours a week for five to six days.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

“These arrangements give employers and employees flexibility in fixing hours of work compatible with business requirements and the employees’ need for a balanced work-life,” Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, one of the authors of the bill, said. Statement from the House’s public relations and information division reads that the measure seeks to promote business competitiveness, work efficiency, and labor productivity.

The scheme is optional and will not penalize companies who won’t follow a four-day workweek.

“Slave labor”

However, despite its seemingly pleasant appeal, some groups and activists dissent the bill. Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) considers the scheme as “slave labor” and “a violation of basic local and international labor standards.”

“If this scheme is enacted, workers will be forced to work longer hours under cheap, unsecured and hazardous working conditions making the description ‘overworked and underpaid’ an understatement,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said according to the group’s Facebook post. KMU has been vocal about this issue since 2014, when the Civil Service Commission also institutionalized a four-day workweek for Metro Manila government offices.

Encouraging rise of contractualization

Likewise, Gabriela Women’s Party shares the same sentiment with KMU, saying that this workweek system would “reverse the labor movement’s historic victory for an eight-hour work schedule.” According to the party’s representative Emmi de Jesus, it would also result in “longer hours of work per day, increased incidence of Endo or contractualization, and will have downward implications on workers’ take-home pay.”

Actually detrimental to workers’ health

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) also resists the bill. Some ECOP members had already tried experimenting with the four-day workweek 10 years ago and the results were adverse to workers’ health.

“In my case, I had workers who were fainting because they were so tired,” ECOP chairman Donald Dee said in a program on ANC.

There are still a lot of unexplored sides in this scheme. We just hope that they would be addressed when the Senate files a counterpart next month.


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