ALBAY Rep. Joey S. Salceda has filed a bill that seeks to cut five hours from the weekly work schedule of private employees.

House Bill 309 seeks to start a 35-hour working week instead of the usual 40 hours, as an alternative arrangement for workers in the private sector.

“This is in line with the policy of the state to promote not only higher levels of productivity but also the welfare of workers,” Mr. Salceda in his explanatory note. The lawmaker said he “envisions a more robust economy, and happier workers in healthier workplaces.”

The new work schedule must not compromise minimum labor standards set by law, according to the bill.

Employers must ensure that employees under the program receive a rate pay, including overtime, night shift differential and other monetary benefits; have day off and equivalent workload; and be given written terms and conditions.

The average work hours have been unchanged since 1995, according to a Labor Force Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, that Mr. Salceda attached to his bill.

“In the Philippines, a shorter working week is undoubtedly the answer to the problems resulting from the extent of time poverty that people face with work,” the congressman said. He also noted that networking and checking emails have increasingly become a more regular aspect of people lives.

Overworking not only affects employees work quality but also their personal lives “with a reduction in happiness and quality of life,” Mr. Salceda said, citing a study.

“Firms in both the public and private sectors that have five-day work weeks may also compress the work week to four days at work going no more than nine hours per day,” he said.

Early this year, President Rodrigo R. Duterte enacted a bill institutionalizing telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras