Baguio City – In response to the inquiry of companies and establishments on how to adopt flexible work arrangements as a guide is Department Order 02-09 or the “Guidelines on the adoption of flexible work arrangements.”

The guidelines will be the basis of employers and employees in the implementation of flexible work arrangements as one of the coping mechanisms and remedial measures in times of economic difficulties and national emergencies. The adoption of a flexible work arrangement is considered as a better alternative than outright termination of the services of employees or the total closure of an establishment.

Anchored on a voluntary basis and conditions mutually acceptable by the employer and the employees, it is recognized as beneficial in terms of reduction of operational cost and helps in saving jobs while maintaining competitiveness and productivity in industries

Flexible work arrangements refer to alternative work schedules other than the traditional or standard work hours, work days, or work week and implementation shall be temporary in nature.

There are six flexible work arrangements companies, establishments, and organizations may consider. The first is “compressed work week.” This refers to one where the normal work week is reduced to more than six days but the total number of work hours of 48 hours per week shall remain. The normal work day is increased to more than eight hours but not to exceed 12 hours, without corresponding overtime premium. The concept can be adjusted accordingly depending on the normal work week of the company pursuant to the provisions of Department of Labor and Employment Department Advisory 2, s. 2004 or the “Implementation of compressed work week schemes.”

Second is the “reduction of work days.” This arrangement refers to one where the normal work days per week are reduced but should not last for more than six months.

Third is the “rotation of workers.” This refers to one where the employees are rotated or alternatively provided work within the work week.

Fourth arrangement is called the “forced leave,” where employees are required to go on leave for several days or weeks using their leave credits if there are any.

Fifth is the “broken time schedule,” which refers to one where the work schedule is not continuous but the work hours within the day or week remains.

Lastly, the “flexi-holidays schedule” where the employees agree to avail the holidays at some other days provided there is no diminution as a result of such arrangement.

Under these flexible work arrangements, the employers and the employees are encouraged to explore alternative schemes under any agreement and company policy or practice in order to cushion and mitigate the effect of the loss of income of the employees.

In the administration of the flexible work arrangements, the parties shall be primarily responsible and in case of differences of interpretation, the following are to be observed:

The differences shall be treated as grievances under the applicable grievance mechanism of the company; if there is no grievance mechanism, or if the mechanism is inadequate, the grievance will be referred to the DOLE office which has jurisdiction of the workplace for appropriate conciliation and to facilitate the resolution of grievances, employers are required to keep and maintain, as part of the records, the documentary requirements proving that the flexible work arrangement was voluntarily adopted.

Prior to the implementation of the flexible work arrangements, an employer shall first notify the DOLE regional office.

On May 20, the Senate approved on third reading Bill 1571 or the proposed Alternative Working Arrangement Act. The bill seeks to amend Article 83 of the Labor Code by making an exception to the normal eight hours of work a day, when the exigency of business operations requires the adoption of a mutually agreed voluntary work arrangement between the employer and the employee. Under the proposal, alternative working hours shall not exceed 48 hours a week and there is no reduction of existing benefits.

Some companies are already implementing non-traditional working arrangements, such as flexi-time, four-day work week, compressed work week, working from home, and shift flexibility, among others, to give their workers independence and control over their work.

Apart from the benefits the bill provides to employees, it will also benefit employers. Among the benefits of flexible working arrangement to employers are less expense on recruitment and training, and huge savings resulting from the reduction of traffic congestion.

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END/Patrick Rillorta