A measure has been filed in the Senate seeking to prohibit employers from requiring their employees to work during rest hours as many Filipinos continue to struggle in a work-from-home setup.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, the author of the measure, said work-from-home arrangements due to the COVID-19 pandemic thinned the line between work and personal space and time.
"Instead of de-stressing 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," the senator said.
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Under the measure, employers are prohibited from requiring their employees to work or report for duty during their rest hours, unless the employee gives their consent. Rest hours is defined as the period other than the normal eight hours of work per day.
Employees can't be compelled by their employer to work beyond their normal working hours unless the employee freely gives their written consent. Any waiver of the right to rest hours or any advance consent to perform overtime work in exchange for hiring or employment is also void.
Employers are likewise prohibited to contact their employees for work and work-related purposes through phone, e-mail, message, and other means of communication, except to notify the employee of the necessity of rendering emergency or urgent work.
Employees who refuse to open or answer communications received during rest hours can't be penalized by their employers.
Excluded from the coverage of the bill are field personnel, domestic helpers, persons in the personal service of another persons, and workers who are paid by output.
The bill 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."
An employee who violates the prohibited acts will be required to pay the employee P1,000 per hour of work rendered. If the employee is threatened or intimidated to work beyond their work hours, the offender will be punished with grave coercion.
If the employee is discriminated or deprived of their employment opportunities as a result of their assertion to their right to rest hours, the offender will be penalized with up to six months in prison and a fine of up to P100,000.