Senate bill seeks to protect rest hours, prevent ‘unli-work from home’

Published by rudy Date posted on January 19, 2022

Angelica Y. Yang –
January 19, 2022 | 12:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Tolentino has filed a bill proposing penalties on employers who intrude on workers’ “rest hours” to prevent tasks and meetings from bleeding into personal time as many shift to work-from-home arrangements.

In the explanatory note to Senate Bill No. 2475, Tolentino said that remote work arrangements have helped work to continue amid precautions against the pandemic. He said, however, that “sometimes, technology and work-from-home arrangements distort the idea of work and home from the point of view of the employees.”

He said that technology and the internet have made workers “virtually always at the beck and call of their employers” even beyond official work hours.

“The power of control of employers now overreaches beyond working hours through the use of phone and email,” he said.

Rest Hours
The bill defines rest hours as  any period other than the hours of work rendered by the employee. Under labor laws, normal work hours must not exceed eight hours a day.

Under the bill, an employee may not be compelled to deliver overtime work, unless allowed by labor laws, or unless they give their written consent.

“Any waiver of the right to rest hours or any advance consent to perform overtime work…shall be void,” the bill reads.

During rest hours and unless the employee consents, the employers or any of their agents are not allowed to:

Require the employee to work
Require the employee to be on duty, to travel, or be at a prescribed place for work or work-related activities, such as attending seminars, meetings, team-building, and other similar activities; or
Contact the employee for work and work-related purposes by any form of communication, unless it is for the purpose of rendering emergency or urgent work.
Penalize employees for not opening or answering communications received during rest hours
If passed into law, the bill will cover workers in “all establishments and undertakings whether for profit or not.”

It does not cover, however, field personnel, domestic helpers, output-based workers, and those in the personal service of another.

Field personnel refers to non-agricultural workers who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of office and those whose actual hours of work cannot be determined. The term does not, however, include work-from-home employees or telecommuting workers under the Telecommuting Act.

Violators of the “Workers Rest Law” are required to pay affected workers P1,000 each per hour of work rendered during the prescribed rest hours.

The bill added that offending employers who discriminate employees who choose to assert their rights under the act, will face a prison sentence of not less than one month but not more than six months, and pay a fine of over P100,000.

Citing a study from non-governmental organization Eurofound, Tolentino said that people who regularly work from home are more than twice likely to exceed the maximum 48 working hours per week, versus those working on employer’s premises.

“While we recognize the benefits of work-from-home and telecommuting arrangements, they have thinned the line between work and personal space and time,” Tolentino added.



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