labor rights

Tolentino files bill protecting workers’ rest hours

Aika Rey
Tolentino files bill protecting workers’ rest hours

Dmytro Tyshchenko/Shutterstock

In proposing the measure, Senator Francis Tolentino recognizes the 'thinning line' between work and personal life

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Tolentino has filed a bill that seeks to protect workers’ rest hours.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2475 seeks to set the normal work hours to not exceed eight hours a day. Under the bill, those on a compressed workweek arrangement, where there are fewer work days, should not work over 12 hours daily.

Contacting the employee for work-related purposes is also prohibited under the proposed measure.

“Any period other than the hours of work shall be considered as rest hours of an employee,” the bill states.

In filing the bill, Tolentino recognized the “thinning line” between work and personal life in the light of technological advances and work-from-home arrangements.

“Sometimes, technology and work-from-home arrangements distort the idea of work and home from the point of view of the employees. For instance, instead of destressing at home from the pressures of work, work is now brought to the employees’ homes or wherever they go,” Tolentino said.

“The power of control of employers now overreaches beyond working hours through the use of phone and email,” he added.

Tolentino also cited the case of France where workers have the “right to disconnect,” which protects workers from being penalized for ignoring messages outside of work hours. Similarly, Portugal has passed a law that bans employers from contacting workers outside of regular hours.

Tolentino’s proposed measure covers most sectors, except for field personnel, domestic helpers, persons in the personal service of another, and output-based workers.

SB 2475 defines field personnel as non-agricultural employees who perform their work outside of the office and whose hours of work in the field cannot be determined. The definition for field personnel does not include employees working from home.

The bill also proposes that employees should not be compelled to render overtime work unless there is consent or urgent work needs to be done as allowed by Section 89 of the Labor Code.

Section 89 essentially states that an employee may be required to perform overtime work if the country is at war, if it is necessary to prevent loss of life, property, or damage to perishable goods, or if urgent repairs are needed.

The bill also aims to render as void any waiver to right to rest hours.

SB 2475 proposes a penalty against any person, worth P1,000 per hour of work to be paid to the employee.

In 2017, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the right to disconnect is the “choice of an employee.” He said this after then-Quezon City representative Winston Castelo filed the right to disconnect bill during the 17th Congress.

In the 18th Congress, three similar bills are still pending at the House labor committee. The bills, however, only seek to amend the Labor Code to include the right to disconnect. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.