With the rising prices of gas and the still ongoing pandemic, there is clamor from many sectors for the adoption of a 4-day workweek – to which even the DOLE has reiterated the rule that such is a management prerogative.
1. Concept of a 4-day workweek
A 4-day workweek is what it suggests – i.e. a workweek composed of four days only.
Please note that this 4-day workweek is actually a form of compressed workweek, wherein workhours for other days are transferred to other days resulting in a workday with more than eight (8) hours without the corresponding overtime pay since workhours were simply transferred. Also, do note that the limitation is that a workday should not exceed twelve (12) hours.
For more info, see: Compressed Workweek.
Before discussing any further, it is crucial first to remember the distinction of a workweek in the private sector and in the government service as they are not the same.
a. 48-hour workweek in the private sector
Under the Labor Code, the prescribed workweek is 48 hours – that translates to a 6-day workweek at 8 hours per day. Of course, this 48-hour workweek applies only to covered employees such as rank-and-file employee, and thus exclude non-covered employees such as managerial employees and managerial staff.
b. 40-hour workweek in the government service
Under the Civil Service Law, the prescribed workweek is 40 hours – that translates to a 5-day workweek at 8 hours per day.
2. Private sector
In the private sector, the adoption of a 4-day workweek falls within the ambit of the employer’s rights – which is otherwise known as management prerogative.
Thus, whether or not to adopt a 4-day workweek is at the discretion of the employer – unless there is a favor stipulation for the employees such as in an employment contract, a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and other employment agreements.
NB: The company’s policy is excluded from the list of exceptions as the adoption of a 4-day workweek by a company will not preclude the employer from withdrawing it if the business necessity requires. This is similar to telecommuting or work from home arrangements – wherein once given by the employer may be withheld at a later date.
Implementation of a 4-day workweek or a compressed workweek will only require two simple steps, namely:
Step 1: Policy-drafting
Step 2: Roll-out of policy
a. Step 1: Policy-drafting
To properly implement a 4-day workweek, it is recommended that the employer issue a corresponding company policy to that effect. The policy can be 1-2 pages long.
At the bare minimum, the policy should contain the following stipulations.
A 4-day workweek or compressed workweek policy should have a disclaimer clearly stating that such is only a temporary measure and should not be treated/considered as a permanent/fixed change in work schedule.
Plus, the disclaimer should clearly explain that such an arrangement will not amount to a company practice nor should be considered as a benefit.
2) New Work Schedule
The new work schedule, whether it is a Monday to Thursday, a Tuesday to Friday, or a Wednesday to Saturday, and so on.
Note that the new work schedule may be applied across the board – i.e. to all employees.
On the other hand, the new work schedule may be applied differently to different groups/kinds of employees – i.e. group 1 employees will be working from Monday to Thursday, while group 2 employees from Tuesday to Friday, and group 3 employees from Wednesday to Saturday. There could be many reasons or advantages for having such an arrangement, such as always having employees at the company/office, ensuring that there will be people in case a client/customer shows up or someone will be able to receive mail or delivery, and so on.
3) Penalties for non-compliance
To ensure higher rate of compliance with the policy, penalties may be provided for those who will be violating the rules, such as re-assignment to a different group (e.g. from group 1 to group 3), temporary withdrawal of the privilege for some time (meaning the concerned employee will be required to observe the work schedule previously observed in the company/office), to the usual penalties, including but not limited to, verbal warning, written reprimand, suspension, and, depending on the gravity of the offenses, dismissal.
Of course, and as always, employers are reminded of the principle that the penalty must be commensurate to the offense.
b. Step 2: Roll-out of policy
If there is already a finalized policy, the next logical thing to do is to roll it out.
While many companies already have their procedures for rolling out new company policies, some may not be so fortunate. Worry not, you can follow these simple steps.
For small organizations:
1) Schedule a general assembly (also known as a townhall meeting or an all-hands meeting);
2) In the meeting, discuss the new policy;
3) Entertain questions in order for everyone to be clarified (this is also a good way for you to know whether your policy is good as it should be able to answer frequently asked questions);
4) Get a compliance commitment from them via a sign-up sheet; and finally,
5) Post the company policy in your company bulletins – both in the off-line space such as the office or workspace and online spaces such as group chats, online spaces, company website, and so on.
For bigger organizations:
All of the above but via departments or business units – in order to manage the crowd and not be overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees. Also, with a much smaller crowd, you would be able to entertain more questions and be able to clarify more the policy.
On a final note, the first week weeks of implementation will likely be bumpy as people will be adjusting to the changes. Thus, employers are reminded to exercise patience and restraint – instead of reprimanding employees for non-compliance, it is best to remind them of the changes to get a compliance commitment from the offending employees.