Senate bill seeks to penalize employers requiring employees to work during rest hours
MANILA, Philippines — A bill that will prohibit employers from requiring employees to report for work or contacting them for work-related purposes during their rest hours has been filed in the Senate.
Sen. Francis Tolentino filed Senate Bill No. 2475 Z— or the proposed Workers’ Rest Law — that seeks to protect employees’ rest hours and sets penalties for employers violating the measure.
In filing the bill, Tolentino said that, while there were benefits in work-from-home and telecommuting arrangements, the lines between work and personal space and time had “thinned.”
“For instance, instead of destressing at home from the pressures of work, work is now brought to the employees’ homes or wherever they go. Similarly, due to advances in technology, employees are now virtually always at the beck and call of their employers,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“The power of control of employers now overreaches beyond working hours through the use of phone and email,” he added.
He noted that this has become more prominent as more employees get into a remote work setup amid the pandemic.
“This bill defines the rest hours of employees, and prohibits employers from exacting work or contacting employees, without the latter’s consent, during rest hours,” Tolentino said.
“An employer that violates the prohibitions set in this bill will be penalized with a monetary sanction and a fine, or with imprisonment if attended with coercion or resulted in discrimination,” he added.
The bill covers employees in all establishments and undertakings whether for profit or not. However, the measure would not apply to field personnel, domestic helpers, persons in the personal service of another, and workers “paid by results.”
The measure defines “field personnel” as “non-agricultural employees who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of business or branch office of the employer and whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.”
“The term shall not include employees who are on a work-from-home arrangement and telecommuting employees as defined by Republic Act No. 11165, or the Telecommuting Act,” according to the bill.
The bill states that an employee’s normal hours of work should not exceed eight hours a day unless provided by the Labor Code.
“The hours of work of employees on a Compressed Workweek arrangement shall not exceed twelve (12) hours a day,” it adds.
According to the bill, an employee “may not be compelled to render overtime work,” unless otherwise allowed by Section 89 of the Labor Code or unless the employee “freely gives their written consent to render overtime work.”
“Any waiver of the right to rest hours or any advance consent to perform overtime work as a condition in the hiring or employment, re-employment, or continued employment shall be void,” it adds.
If the bill is signed into law, employers are prohibited from:
- requiring the employee to work
- requiring 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
- contacting the employee for work and work-related purposes through phone, e-mail, message, and other means of communication, unless it is for the purpose of notifying the employee of the necessity of rendering emergency or urgent work as provided under Article 89 and Article 92 of the Labor Code
“Employees may not be penalized by the employer for not opening or answering communications received during rest hours,” the measure added.
The bill requires an employer to pay an employee P1,000 per hour of work rendered in violation of the proposed law.
“Substantial evidence is sufficient to prove the violation and number of hours worked,” according to the measure.
The bill also seeks to penalize an offender with imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than six months with a fine of not less than P100,000 if an employee is “limited, segregated, or classified in any way that would discriminate, deprive, or diminish their employment opportunities, or otherwise adversely affect said employee” as a result of asserting the provisions of the measure.
“If the offense is committed by a corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association, or any other entity, the penalty shall be imposed upon the guilty officer or officers of such corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association, or entity,” the bill said.
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