The Senate approved on second reading on Monday Senate Bill No. 1571 or the Alternative Working Arrangement bill that will give employers and employees an option to adopt flexible working arrangements.
Senator Joel Villanueva, author and sponsor of the measure, said that his proposal is an “answer to the changes in the labor market and in the nature of employment.”
“As I always say, we are now in the age of robotics, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. Today, work need not be confined in a certain place or office. Work need not happen at the same time. Work can be done remotely,” Villanueva, chairman of Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, underscored.
The bill seeks to amend Article 83 of the Labor Code by making an exception to the normal eight (8) hours of work a day when the exigency of business operations requires the adoption of a mutually agreed voluntary work arrangement between the employer and the employee.
Under the proposal, alternative working hours shall not exceed 48 hours a week and there is no reduction of existing benefits.
“Para po ito sa mga manggagawa sa pribadong sektor subalit kung magtatakda po ng parehong polisiya ang gobyerno, na nagpapatupad na rin naman ng ilang uri ng mga alternative working arrangement sa ngayon, tiyak na magiging katanggap-tanggap po ito para sa ating mga kawani,” the senator noted.
Villanueva further emphasized that alternative working arrangement or flexible working is a necessity and that every Filipino worker deserves to have this statutory right.
The senator shared that there are companies which are already implementing non-traditional working arrangements like flexitime, four-day workweek, compressed workweek, work-from-home, shift flexibility, among others, to give their workers more independence and control over their work.
In view of the intensifying industrial era and the continuous stride in the country’s services sector, which posted the highest share to GDP of 59.3% during the third quarter of 2018, Villanueva is confident that more and more jobs will be suitable to alternative working arrangements.
Villanueva believes that workers who have more independence and control over their work are more productive and deliver better results—a proposition that has been tested many times and generally accepted as true by employers and even labor sociologists.
A research project funded by the Economic Social Research Council based at the University of Kent in England, entitled “Work Authonomy, Work Flexibility and Work Life Balance”, shows that when managers allow workers more discretion or more control over their work, they deliver better performance outcomes or better productivity.
The research project also reveals that at least 15% of workers in the 28 member states of the European Union have the freedom to change the beginning and ending times of their work and approximately 5% of all workers across Europe have complete independence over their work.
“Gusto ko pong bigyang diin na hindi po natin gagawing compulsary ang mga alternative working arrangement, katulad din po ng Telecommuting Act, optional o voluntary po ito at depende sa pangangailangan o exigency ng business operation,” Villanueva clarified.
Apart from the benefits the bill provides to employees, the senator shared that the bill has massive benefits as well to employers.
Among the benefits of flexible working arrangement to employers include: less expense on recruitment and training; and huge savings resulting from the reduction of traffic congestion.
“Ihanda po natin ang ating mga manggagawa at ang ating mga industriya sa pag-usbong ng mga bago, disente, at mas magagandang trabaho dito sa Pilipinas. Ipasa po natin ang Senate Bill 1571!” Villanueva said.