Four day workweek, anyone?

There is this bill filed in the 15th Congress proposing to trim Friday from the traditional five days a week and to add two more hours daily to the usual eight hour work time pattern. Bottomline, it would still satisfy the 40 hour work in a week requirement of the Labor Code. And the department concerned, in this case the Department of Labor & Employment, does in fact allowed four day work week by way of encouraging flexible time as a cost-cutting measure. This, of course, largely depends on a meeting of minds between the employees and the employer. In short, 4-day work week or 5-day work week is a matter for consenting parties.

Let us review the math. In the old set up, an employee or worker puts in 8 hours daily and works 5 days a week. The total working hours are equal to 40 hours a week. Now, in the new scheme, one puts 10 hours daily instead or 2 more hours from the usual 8 hour time frame. All told, in both instances, the 40 hour in a week requirement is still met. Were a day off on a Friday is of any value, perhaps, more employees or workers would take the new option, come to think of it.

Thursday, as a result, will then be the new Friday. With Friday added to the usual 2-day weekend (Saturday & Sunday), how can we tell if employees or workers are better off with this proposal from Rep. Winston Castelo?

As many are for the first-time in history bill, many are also against it. And the bill is yet to be scheduled for deliberations that will then call for a given series of public hearings. This early, however, it would seem like several public hearings have been ‘unofficially’ getting underway as more and more sectors manifest their responses to the now controversial bill. Editors and their editorials, columnists and their columns, TV or radio commentators and their programs, to include politicians have caught the bug on the issue that they respond – for or against – this Castelo bill. There are groups that initiated their own surveys and the comments are getting long than was expected.

The labor department is likely to be for the bill. KMU and TUCP are, quite expectedly, against it, however arguing along purely dogmatic lines. ECOP seems to be likewise not for it while Malacanang plays the ‘neither for nor against’ stereotype. More quarters are moving in the opposite direction on the bill forwarded with such a noble intent and singleness of purpose. Just somebody is trying to think out of the box, for good reasons.

Can the 4-day work week thesis be defended?

Press that yes button please. And here are certain notes we can go by, in no particular order nor of any Maslovian binge or what. Better still, let us grant that these are major points to reflect upon, namely:

1. Four-day workweek brings about 20% savings. For example, a company or agency will save on electricity, water, telephone, telecom bills and transport or fuel costs each Friday of the week that there is no work.
2. Four-day workweek does not contemplate a cut back in service or of productivity since it involves the same number of hours of 40 in a week and the desired performance output as if it were 5-day a week work pattern
3. If 4-day work week is inimical to health since it is claimed to cause fatigue and health risks, then why is Congress (both Senate and House of Representatives) seem to indicate great performance in their scorecards and the employees and workers seem more motivated and more productive? Pray tell
4. The Utah so-called experiment that ended the 4-day workweek cannot be given as proof against the 4-day work week. Apparently, there are still those complaining about the fact that there are no services on a Friday and secondly, that it did not generate the expected savings. Note please that real savings did not clearly manifest because it was the same period of lowered fuel or energy rates. But the crux of the matter is that many cities within Utah as it is with Texas are for the 4-day work week. For fact is, Texas saved $400,000 annually with a 4-day workweek
5. What other things can one do on a Friday? Arguing along economies of scale, let us please realize that when all public agencies or private companies stop the working clock on a Friday for a good 24-hour, otherwise quantum costs would be saved from being expended. In short, more benefits would accrue. Simply told, it is squeezing more bang out of every buck
6. Call to mind the Marshmallow test. Class A will rather have the 5-day workweek, so they can go home early. Class B on the other hand, will rather have the 4-day workweek even if that will entail 2 more hours each day of work. Who will not have Friday as a bonus, a day off from work, an opportunity?

From where I stand, let us better run a simple cost-benefit analysis and present the final matrix for the information of all stakeholders concerned. Somebody should start the research work now.