Gov’t presses staggered work shifts in private sector

Published by rudy Date posted on October 24, 2020

by Roy Stephen C. Canivel, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24 Oct 2020

The government is encouraging businesses to adopt staggered work shifts to help decongest roads, but the manner by which this will be done will be left entirely on the shoulders of the private sector.

On Friday, three government agencies released a joint advisory encouraging businesses to “adopt multiple and staggered workshifts” for employees to start and end their work at different times.

This is to “allow more workers to report to work but still maintaining the physical distancing requirements, to spread out the congestion on our roads and to ease the demand for public transportation,” read the advisory.

Joint Advisory No. 20-01 dated Oct. 22, was released by the departments of Trade and Industry, of Labor and Employment and of the Interior and Local Government.

The circular still encouraged work-from-home arrangement and other flexible work plans apart from pushing them to also do staggered hours. The advisory also encouraged local governments to move the curfew to later hours.

“So this means, there will be companies who would start their work at 7 in the morning, there would be those who would start at 8, 9, 10, 11 and so on and so forth in order to spread out the office hours and the passengers,” said Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez during an online briefing on Monday.

It remains to be seen how staggered work hours would affect traffic, especially since the government is letting the private sector make the call.

Lopez said that they would leave it to the private sector to decide on the details of the staggered shifts since it would take a lot of time if the government were to make that decision.

“We let private companies decide how to adopt the staggered workshifts because if we decide on a specific time for a particular sector or geographic place or section, it will entail a lot of consultations and time,” he told reporters on Viber last Monday.

In 2004, the International Labour Office (ILO) of the United Nations said that this staggered work hours was one way of easing traffic congestion.

In theory, staggered work hours mean different companies will have different starting and finishing times, instead of having all workers arrive and leave at the same time.

When work hours are staggered, the flow of traffic can go smoothly, public transportation can be used better and the physical and psychological toll of traffic can be lessened.

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