Four-day week: Presidential candidates weigh in on scheme

The need to pay workers more was brought up in debate

Four-day week: Presidential candidates weigh in on scheme

The presidential candidates for the Philippines' upcoming election this May aired their thoughts on the proposed four-day work week for employees amid surging oil prices and the pandemic.

During Saturday's presidential debate, nine out of the 10 presidential hopefuls weighed in on the compressed work week, which was proposed to have four days a week with 10 hours each to give way for three rest days.

Jose Montemayor, Jr.

Cardiologist Jose Montemayor, Jr. said that while a four-day work week sounds good, the public should still remember that the country is still in a pandemic and needs to economically recover.

According to Montemayor, the economy needs to be stimulated through consumption, spending, and fiscal stimulus. He said the three rest days under the four-day work week will be a waste because money will not circulate in the country.

"What happens is that it will become stagnant, and it will lead to stagnation," Montemayor said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said that the implementation of a four-day work week will depend on the industry.

"BPO (business process outsourcing) for example, it can have one day, work from home. I think that I agree," he said.

According to Moreno, there will be industries that will need physical presence to generate more productivity and efficiency.

Leody De Guzman

Labour leader Leody De Guzman said that a four-day work week is possible, but extending an employee's workday should be properly compensated.

For De Guzman, a four-day work week will have 12 hours a day to complete the 48 hours a week for an employee. He stressed that compressing the whole work week to four days will need "30% overtime pay" for workers.

Manny Pacquiao

Boxer-turned-Senator Manny Pacquiao said that not all industries should implement a four-day work week.

According to Pacquiao, there are industries that are not easy, where employees are required to remain under the sun for hours. For these workers, the retired boxing champion said having 10 hours of work could get them sick.

Read more: Four-day work week: The good and the bad for Southeast Asians

Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson said that he supports the implementation of a four-day work week because of expensive gas prices. According to the lawmaker, workers will be able to save more money if they are given one more commute-free fay.

Lacson also agreed with De Guzman in saying that workers will demand overtime pay if they are made to work for 10 hours or more a day. The lawmaker added that there is a need to amend the labour code so employees will not demand overtime pay if they are asked to work for over 10 hours.

Leni Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo also agreed with De Guzman, saying that workers should be compensated properly to ensure that they are not "short changed."

According to Robredo, the salary computation for workers should be based on the number of hours they rendered services instead of the number of days they reported for work.

She also agreed with Pacquiao, stressing that workers and employers should be heard first to know what kind of industries could implement the four-day work week.

Ernesto Abella

Former Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella also agreed with the other presidential candidates in ensuring that workers should not be short-changed on the implementation of the four-day work week.

According to Abella, workers should be given commensurate pay even if they are asked to work for lesser days.

Norberto Gonzales

Former Defence Secretary Norberto Gonzales, for his part, said that the objective for the four-day work week should be reviewed first. He said there is a need to find out why the work scheme needs to be implemented.

Faisal Mangondato

Businessman Faisal Mangondato also said that the four-day work week proposal needs a review based on what is stipulated in the law. He also agreed with the other candidates that workers should receive additional benefits if they are asked to extend hours for the compressed work week.

Former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., another presidential hopeful, skipped Saturday's debate and was unable to weigh in on the matter.

Four-day work week

The implementation of the four-day work week has been considered in the Philippines amid the pandemic and surging oil prices.

This was first proposed by the National Economic and Development Authority to government employees first, but the private sector is also encouraged to implement the working arrangement.

The proposal saw mixed reaction from various groups. Some supported it to help employees amid the crises faced by the country, but some opposed it so the country can continue revitalizing its economy.

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