Philippine labour chief considers new order on prolonged sitting

The labour secretary is considering official requirements for standing breaks

Philippine labour chief considers new order on prolonged sitting
The Philippine labour secretary is considering requiring companies to provide standing breaks to workers who are seated for most of the day.

Secretary Silvestre Bello says he is just awaiting the formal findings and recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Center and the Bureau of Working Conditions before he makes a decision.

“They said it is hard to sit for four hours. The workers need to stand and relax their muscles,” Bello said. 

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death, according to the National Health Service website. Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

The NHS advises adults aged 19 to 64 to try to sit down less throughout the day, including at work, when travelling and at home. They can:
  • stand on the train or bus
  • take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
  • place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
  • stand or walk around while on the phone
  • take a walk during coffee or tea break
  • walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling
  • swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies
Professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University led a team that linked sedentary behavior and obesity. They described sedentary behaviour as “not simply a lack of physical activity a cluster of individual behaviours where sitting or lying is the dominant mode of posture and energy expenditure is very low.”

“Sedentary behaviour for adults is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, diabetes, some types of cancer and metabolic dysfunction.”

Biddle suggested breaking up extended periods of sedentary behavior and  taking an active break from sitting every 30 minutes.

The Philippine Labour Department issued Order 178 on August 25, mandating employers to provide sitting breaks to workers whose job nature calls for standing or walking for long periods.

It also prohibits companies from requiring female employees to wear high-heeled shoes.

This order, published 9 September, will take effect 24 September.

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