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Abante proposes 4-day workweek for non-frontline gov’t offices on EDSA

House Minority Leader Benny Abante Jr. is proposing that non-frontline government agencies situated along EDSA to implement a four-day workweek during the holiday season to help ease traffic congestion along the major thoroughfare.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Abante said drastic measures should be put up to address the expected heavy traffic during the Christmas season.

"I appeal to Malacañang to study the implementation of a four-day workweek for non-frontline offices of national government agencies," he said.

"I suggest that the Palace considers the feasibility of doing this during the holiday season. This could also serve as a trial period to assess if such a scheme can work long-term," he added.

Abante said agencies located near EDSA could implement the compressed workweek system, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

"Microsoft recently experimented with a four-day workweek in one of its subsidiaries in Japan, and they discovered that this led to a 40% boost in productivity," he said.

"It worked there, it could work here," he added.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment earlier in the day tackled two bills providing for a flexible working arrangement and compressed workweek.

House Bill 1670 removes the limiting "normal work hours" of eight hours per day in favor of a more flexible one, allowing employees to work at any time as long as they complete the required 48 hours of work per week.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1904 provides for a compressed workweek arrangement which reduces the normal work week to less than six days but retains the total 48 hours of work per week.

Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo Santos Benavides said the adoption of a flexible and compressed workweek allows for competitiveness, efficiency and productivity of workers in a company.

However, he pointed out that a compressed workweek cannot be legislated, and the measure only enables companies and its employees to adopt a flexible work arrangement.

"It should not compulsorily or mandatorily require all employers and workers to adopt the flexible work arrangement such as compressed workweek," Benavides said.

"The adoption must be optional on the part of the employer. And it must also be as a result of the voluntariness between the two parties," he added.

Kilusang Mayo Uno vice chairperson Lito Ustarez opposed the measure, saying that longer hours at work will reduce the productivity of the employees. It will also reduce the income of some workers who are paid on a daily basis, since they will only be working at least four days per week.

Iloilo Representative Janette Garin recognized the downsides of the proposal. She said it might be better to simply adjust the working hours of employees instead of having them to work for only four days a week.

"Baka pwede nating balikan na lang yung mag-aadjust ka ng office time, para hindi sabay-sabay na papasok at aalis at magkakaroon ng more efficient services," she said.

"If an employee also works for long hours, the rest of the day hindi na rin sila productive. So we have to balance output and ease of the customers, ease of the public, not only of the employees," she added.

A technical working group meeting has been set to further discuss the provisions of bills proposing a flexible work arrangement and compressed workweek. —NB, GMA News