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WFH, 4-day work week schemes backed amid rising oil prices

The Department of Energy (DOE) supports the extension of work-from-home arrangement and the proposal for a compressed work week to conserve oil consumption amid the non-stop fuel price hikes, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired yesterday.

Adopting a four-day work week was a recommendation from Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua during the same meeting.

This proposal aims to alleviate work-related expenses, such as fuel and transport, for the general population.

Since Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 1 at the start of the month, the government has encouraged those in WFH arrangement to start returning to their workplaces to stimulate economic activities.

The Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB) last week denied the request of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry to extend the WFH scheme for PEZA-registered IT-BPO companies.

In a statement early this week, PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said continuing the hybrid work model is efficient amid the increasing fuel prices and to decongest Metro Manila traffic.

“The recommendation is consistent with the telecommuting law (Republic Act 11165) —a legislation since 2018 that recognized working from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies— which preceded the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act,” Plaza said.

EMPLOYERS’ DISCRETION

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the enforcement of flexible work arrangements in the private sector is up to the discretion of employers.

“In the four-day workweek proposal, there is no need for a new law or Department Order. We have issued a Labor advisory on flexible work arrangements. The four-day workweek is a flexible work arrangement,” Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said in a virtual forum.

Benavidez, however, said this work arrangement does not cover overtime pay.

“When compressed workweek is implemented, under (a) previous labor advisory, there is no need to pay overtime premiums. This is because the implementation of a compressed workweek is based on a voluntary agreement between employees and employers,” he added.*PNA

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