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Officials Looking Into Four-Day Workweek In Some Government Offices Amid COVID-19 Threat

It's an 'option' that a task force is studying at the moment.

Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat, a four-day workweek in certain government offices is an “option” that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease is looking into. 

Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles said it’s one of the options the task force is studying at the moment. "Isa ito sa mga options na maaring gamitin lalo na sa government offices na medyo exposed sa COVID-19," he said, according to GMA News. 

Since they are in the early stage of discussions, the topic was not tackled at the latest meeting of the task force headed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. Nograles said they’re discussing it “in small groups… in coordination with the Civil Service Commission.”

He said there’s a possibility that the four-day workweek may be implemented in certain areas if there’s a “clustering” of cases, which, at the moment, are “sporadic.”

As for the private sector, Nograles said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued an advisory that regulates flexible work arrangements. This is to “discourage businesses from laying off and retrenching workers,” according to Philstar. 

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Under the advisory, flexible work arrangements include reducing work hours or days, rotating employees, and mandating employees to go on forced leave. DOLE said these are better alternatives than terminating employees or closing businesses, according to Inquirer. 

Senators Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros have called for DOLE to heighten its efforts in encouraging employers to allow a work-from-home arrangement. 

Since the virus was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, it has infected over 113,000 people and killed over 4,000 people around the world, according to CNN. As of this writing, there are now 33 confirmed cases in the Philippines. 

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