Philippine labor

Malacañang studies proposed 4-day workweek, P24-billion wage subsidy

Loreben Tuquero

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Malacañang studies proposed 4-day workweek, P24-billion wage subsidy

Workers refill the cylinder of liquified petroleum gas at a refilling station along Dr A Santos Avenue in Parañaque City on March 9, 2022. Rappler

The National Economic and Development Authority has proposed a shift to a four-day workweek, while the Department of Labor and Employment proposes a three-month wage subsidy for private sector workers

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is looking into proposals to shift to a four-day workweek and a three-month wage subsidy for workers.

Presidential Spokesperson Martin Andanar said this in a briefing, in response to questions on the reduced workweek proposal of the National Economic and Development Authority, and the wage subsidy proposal of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

 On NEDA’s proposal, Andanar said: “Iyan po ay under consideration ng ating Pangulo. Mayroon pong ilang panukala ang NEDA at kasama na nga po diyan ang nabanggit ninyo na four-day workweek at mayroon din po iyong extension ng work from home. At ito pong mga panukalang ito ay in case na tumaas pa nang husto ang presyo ng langis sa pandaigdigang merkado.”

(That is under consideration of our President. NEDA has some proposals, including the four-day workweek and there is also the extension of work from home. These proposals are in case fuel prices in the world market continue to rise.)

During the Talk to the People address aired earlier that day, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua argued against a fare hike and an increase in minimum wage, saying the combined impact of these moves would increase inflation by 1.4 points.  Transport groups are seeking a P5- to P6- increase in minimum fare, which is currently at P9.

Chua proposed alternatives which would provide targeted relief to vulnerable sectors and to provide unconditional cash transfer for the bottom 50% of households and to shift to a four-day workweek to alleviate fuel and transport-related expenses.

Magtatrabaho pa rin po ang bawat Fiilpino na 40 hours per [week], pero imbis na walang oras kada araw, magiging sampung oras kada araw,” he said. 

(Filipinos will still work 40 hours a week, but instead of eight hours a day, they will work 10 hours a day instead.)

Chua said increasing the minimum fare may help jeepney and bus drivers, but it would affect those who bike or walk to work or school even though they do not pay transportation fares.

On the idea of increasing the minimum wage, he said, “Makikinabang siguro ’yung minimum wage earner pero ‘yung mga informal workers na hindi kumikita ng minimum wage, ‘yung mga for instance piecemeal po ‘yung bayad o ‘yung mas mababa pa sa minimum wage, sila po ay matatamaan din. Kaya dapat we should be concerned not only for one sector or for one type of worker, dapat po lahat po ay concern po natin.”

(Maybe the minimum wage earner will benefit but the informal workers that earn less than the minimum wage, for instance piece-rate compensation, they will be affected. So we should be concerned not only for one sector or for one type of worker, but we should be concerned for all.)

President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the Department of Finance’s proposal to provide a P200 monthly subsidy per household for the bottom 50% of all Filipino households.

Wage subsidy

DOLE proposed a wage subsidy for private sector workers amounting to P24 billion, which would benefit around one million workers for three months, from April to June.

Asked about the wage proposal, Andaran said: “Iyan din po ay under consideration at pag-aaralan pa nang husto. Kailangan balansehin ng husto ang lahat ng mga suhestiyon ng iba’t ibang departamento tulad ng Department of Labor. Pero ganoon pa man, since ito ay na-recommend na sa Talk to the People or mini Cabinet meeting kagabi, ito ay pag-aaralan for the next few days.”

(That is under consideration and will be studied well. All the suggestions of the different departments like DOLE should be balanced. Be that as it may, since this was recommended during the Talk to the People or mini Cabinet meeting last night, thiswill be studied in the next few days.)

DOLE Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said that the proposal would benefit vulnerable sectors including minimum wage earners. She added that this would also give “breathing space” for recovery and growth to newly-reopened micro, small, and medium enterprises.

DOLE also proposed the immediate appointment and reappointment of nominees for employers and workers sectoral representatives in the National Wages and Productivity Commission and the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards, to aid in the speedy resolution of wage petitions. –

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Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.