Lawmaker calls for flexible 48-hour workweek

To complement the recently enacted Telecommuting Law, a pro-administration lawmaker on Monday sought an amendment to the Labor Code which seeks to allow employees to clock in a maximum of 48 work hours per week at any time under a flexible work schedule.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, principal author in the House of the Telecommuting Act, said workers allowed to telecommute by their employers would be able to be productive at any time of the day as long as they complete the required number of work hours.

Villafuerte said he will refile in the incoming Congress his House Bill 9048 which, he said, will protect the well-being of employees by setting a 48-hour per week limit.

“With the recent enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11165, or the Telecommuting Act, which allows workers to clock in hours through partial or total substitution of computers of telecommunication technologies, it is this representation’s hope that this proposed bill adds to the intent of the Telecommuting act in providing employees the opportunity to be productive in the workforce no matter the situation they may find themselves in,” said Villafuerte.

Under Article 83 of the Labor Code, the normal hours of work for any employee “shall not exceed eight hours a day.” Villafuerte wants to amend this provision to conform to alternative work arrangements such as telecommuting by adding a portion that enables work hours to be counted on a per-week basis not exceeding 48 hours per week.

Thus, with HB 9048, the normal work hours of any employee shall not exceed eight hours a day, “except when the exigency of business operations or national emergency requires the adoption of alternative work arrangements subject to conditions as may be predetermined by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in appropriate regulations ensuring that hours of work shall not exceed forty-eight (48) hours a week, and the rights, health and well-being of the employees are protected.”

Villafuerte said his proposal aims to help ease the worries of employees in commuting to work by allowing “flexible working arrangements” that fit the needs of both the employers and employees.

Such flexible work arrangements, in turn, will help “ease and decongest the traffic situation in Greater Manila and lessen the stress of both citizens and the government,” he added.

Telecommuting allows employees in the private sector to work at home or any other alternative work environment with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies, instead of having to go to their respective offices on a daily basis.

The law, which was signed by the President last Dec. 20, states that “an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they mutually agree upon provided that such terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by the law, and shall include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.”

Among Villafuerte’s proposals that were included in RA 11165 are the  “fair treatment” provisions, which ensures that telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as that of employees working at the office in terms of rate of pay, right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days, same  or equivalent workload, same access to training and career development opportunities, appropriate training on the technical equipment, and collective rights as the workers at the employer’s premises.

Topics: Telecommuting Law , Luis Raymund Villafuerte , Labor Code , House of the Telecommuting Act

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