Economist calls for compressed working hours with 10-hour days in response to higher fuel prices
The Philippines is considering a four-day working week to conserve energy, as the cost of fuel continues to rise globally, driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Officials are searching for ways to soften the impact of dramatic price increases, which have prompted calls for a rise in the minimum wage and greater assistance for drivers.
The socioeconomic planning secretary, Karl Kendrick Chua, has suggested a compressed working week, with employees working fewer days but for two extra hours each day. He proposed the idea initially for government staff but also encouraged private businesses to adapt their working patterns.
“Each Filipino will still work 40 hours per week. But instead of five days, it will be four; instead of eight hours a day, it will be 10 hours a day,” he said, in comments quoted by Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The country adopted similar measures during previous sharp increases in the price of oil in 2008 and during the Gulf war.
The energy secretary, Alfonso Cusi, backed the idea and called for an extension of work-from-home arrangements to reduce the number of commuters. Workers in the capital region, Metro Manila, were told to return to their offices this month after Covid
restrictions were relaxed.
President Rodrigo Duterte will make a decision on the proposal on Monday, according to local media.
The idea has been adopted by Iloilo City, in the Western Visayas region. The mayor, Jerry Treñas, said the policy would be introduced for government employees from 28 March, to “give [them] time to adjust their schedules”.
“We are also going to make use of our modern jeeps to ferry our employees from the district plazas to the city hall and back every day. Other measures recommended for energy conservation will be seriously studied,” he said.
Drivers in the Philippines were hit by another price rise on Tuesday, when the cost of oil rose for the 11th consecutive week.