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Salceda’s 35-hour work scheme proposal passes House panel

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A bill seeking to institute a 35-hour working scheme as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment unanimously approved House Bill (HB) 309, which aims to promote higher levels of productivity and the welfare of workers.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, author of the bill, said a shorter working week is crucial amid the changing labor market and the increasing strain from commuting.

“Flexibility in workplaces accommodates the special needs of families, mothers, and older workers,” Salceda said, adding that shorter work hours save on utility bills and result in fewer cars on the road during rush hours.

The bill proposes that an employer in the private sector may, upon request of its employees or on a voluntary basis, implement a 35-hour working week arrangement for its employees upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon, including arrangements for flexible working time.

In all cases, the employer shall ensure that the employees under a 35-hour working week scheme shall receive a rate of pay, including overtime, night shift differential, and similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided in applicable laws, and collective bargaining agreements; have the right to rest periods as provided for by law; have equivalent workload and the same performance standards as those of comparable employees in the company; and be provided by the employer with written information on the terms and conditions of the 35-hour working week scheme adopted, and the corresponding responsibilities of the employees under such arrangement.

The bill states that the parties to a 35-hour working week arrangement shall be primarily responsible for its administration.

In cases of conflict during the implementation of the scheme, the differences shall be resolved under the grievance mechanism of the company.

For companies with no grievance machinery or whose mechanisms are inadequate, the grievance shall be referred to the Department of Labor and Employment for resolution. (PNA)

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