Senate OKs bill on flexitime, alternative work arrangements

Camille Elemia
Senate OKs bill on flexitime, alternative work arrangements
Congress is now set to convene a bicameral conference committee to thresh out differences between the House and Senate versions

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, May 20, approved on third and final reading the bill that will give employers and employees an option to adopt flexible working arrangements.

Voting 17-0, senators passed Senate Bill No. 1571 or the Alternative Working Arrangement bill.

SB 1571 seeks to amend Article 83 of the Labor Code, which limits the working hours of an employee to 8 hours per day for 5 days.

Under the bill, alternative working hours should not exceed 48 hours a week and should not reduce existing benefits for employees.

Senator Joel Villanueva, author and sponsor of the measure, said the bill 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,” said Villanueva, chairman of the committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

Villanueva said there are companies that are already implementing non-traditional working arrangements like flexitime, 4-day workweeks, compressed workweeks, and work from home, among others, to give employees more independence and control.

Employers, he added, would also benefit from the measure, by spending less on recruitment and training. and reducing losses from traffic congestion.

The senator emphasized that the bill, just like the Telecommuting Act, is not compulsory and is only applicable to companies that choose to adopt an alternative arrangement.

Among the benefits of flexible working arrangements for employers are: less expense on recruitment and training, and huge savings resulting from the reduction of traffic congestion.

The House of Representatives approved a counterpart bill in 2017. The Senate and the House would now convene a bicameral conference committee to thresh out differences between the two measures. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com