By Braulio Giron, Jr. on May 27, 2019
With four-day work weeks close to becoming viable in the Philippines, it may be time to assess if the alternative schedule suits your employees and your business operations
Since the dawn of the 20th Century, a lot has obviously changed for workers. Advances in technology continue to influence and alter how work is done, essentially redefining job roles and even leading to the creation of new jobs altogether. What hasn’t changed is the “routine” of working 8 hours a day, five days a week. While in no means universal, and in lieu of flexible contracts and work-from-home arrangements, it remains the most common schedule in the workplace, often only varying between day, mid, or night shifts.
This is seemingly on the verge of changing in the Philippines. Last May 20, 2019, the Senate approved a bill allowing local employees to render services with a shorter workweek arrangement. Under the proposed law, employees can opt out of rendering 8 hours of work for 5 days a week, and instead opt for a "mutually agreed voluntary work arrangement" with their employer. They may choose to serve longer hours for a fewer number of days, as long as they can meet the prescribed time per week of typically 40 hours.
Later approved by the House of Representatives and now only needing the signature of the President, a shortened workweek is close to being a reality. It is surely an attractive proposition for both employers and employees alike, appealing to both the business’ bottom line and the work-life balance of a productive workforce. But then there can also be caveats. This makes it important to consider the needs of both your employers and the business.
The advantages of having a shortened workweek are clear. First, and considered most important by many, is that employees will get to enjoy three days of rest as opposed to the standard two that comes with the 8-hour, 5-day work week.
This could make many employees happier, particularly those in densely populated areas like Metro Manila. Fewer work days can mean lesser time spent on commuting while still being able to earn the same salary and benefits. The added day for rest provides more family time and a better balance between work and personal life in many cases.
A four-day workweek can help you attract more qualified candidates, particularly those who consider having a longer weekend a major lifestyle benefit.
Additionally, you may also save on operating costs (electricity, cleaning, etc.) if you're able to configure your company's operations into a four-day week while still accomplishing the same amount of work you would usually complete in five days.
While working fewer days has its advantages, there are some compromises that also need to be considered. The most glaring is that working 10-hour days instead of the standard 8 may take its toll, particularly when the jobs entail heavy-lifting or physical exertion. The two additional hours in a day may not be the most productive use of time, particularly for roles that rely on physical stamina.
Scheduling can also become challenging, especially when the business is one that operates extended hours or even 24/7. This means establishing four-day work weeks for employees while still making sure all operational hours are covered. Without proper preparation, some schedules may overlap and lead to unnecessary expenses.
From a personal standpoint, some employees may also dislike a compressed schedule, where a 10-hour work day may impede their pre or post-work activities like taking their children to school, going to the gym, or running errands.
Be Fair, Be Flexible
With the shortened work week close to getting signed into law, your employees are likely wondering what its implication will be to the company, and most specifically how the law will affect them. A four-day week isn’t for everyone.
This makes getting input important. Talking to employees about their scheduling concerns and thinking of ways to accommodate this is critical to any schedule adjustment. It's important to weigh all possible options, get input from employees, and check any cost or tax implications of making any changes.
So will four-day workweeks be the right choice for your business? It is surely worth a try once the law is in place, which you can better determine through a trial of maybe three or four months. Then, ask employees whether the compressed work week is right for them, as well as see how having such an arrangement affected your productivity and bottom line.
Remember, one key to attracting and maintaining qualified employees are providing benefits that significantly improve their quality of life, and a shortened workweek may be among them.
While extensive efforts are taken to ensure that our articles are as factual and as well-researched as possible, please keep in mind that this is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax or legal advice.
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