People walk on an overpass as traffic builds up as health authorities downgraded the capital Manila to Alert Level 1, the lowest rung of a five-step pandemic alert system on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Photo taken in Quezon city, Philippines. Image Credit: AP


  • 4-day work week being is considered in Asian country to address the knock-on effects of high fuel prices.
  • Decision by President Rodrigo Duterte on the proposal is due on Monday, March 21, 2022.
  • Commuters in the Philippines were hit by another price rise on Tuesday (March 15, 2022), when the cost of oil rose for the 11th consecutive week.

Philippine economic managers have proposed a four-day work week, with a decision expected to be made as early as Monday next week.

The move came as Duterte administration officials look for ways to soften the impact of dramatic oil price increases for the 11th week, which had triggered calls for a minimum wage increase and greater assistance for drivers, farmers and fishermen.

What’s the four-day scheme all about?

It means an additional off day from the current five-day work week, generally from Monday to Friday for most government offices. 

Who proposed it?

The Philippines' Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua proposed a four-day work week scheme on Tuesday (March 15, 2022) in a meeting with the chief executive. Several of Duterte's Cabinet members backed the move.

Chua has suggested that in a compressed working week, employees may work fewer days, but for two extra hours each day.

Kendric Chua
Image Credit: Gulf News / NEDA

Does the proposal cover only government staff?

Secretary Chua proposed the idea initially for government staff. But he 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,” said Chua, in comments quoted by local media.

Is a 4-day work week already observed anywhere in the Philippines?

A 4-day work week 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 March 28, 2022 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,” said Treñas.


number of consecutive weeks during which fuel prices have risen in the Philippines

What triggered the proposal?

Due to geopolitical uncertainties triggering global oil supply concerns, the Philippines saw on March 15, 2022 the price of diesel jumping by an unprecedented Php13 pesos (about Dh1, $0.25) per litre in just one round, while the price of petrol jumped more than Php7 ($0.14) per litre. Pump prices have been on an upswing in the country for 11 weeks straight.

fuel prices march 15, 2022
PUMP PRICES RISING FOR 11 WEEKS: A new round of fuel price spike took place on March 15, 2022.

In a meeting with Duterte at Malacañan Palace on Tuesday night, Chua cited that his proposal was also done in 1990 during the Gulf War and in 2008 when the fuel prices also spiked.

From March 1, 2022, Metro Manila was been placed under coronavirus Alert Level 1, and the government has encouraged those in WFH arrangements to start returning to their workplaces to stimulate economic activity.

At this alert level, government and the private sector workers are allowed to return to their workplaces to stimulate economic activities.

Meanwhile, the Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB) last week denied the request of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry to extend the WFH scheme for PEZA-registered IT-BPO companies.

But the recent round of fuel price increases has forced a rethink of the no-more-work-from-home decision.

What did labour groups say?

Due to fuel price spikes, a trade union in the country had asked for the doubling of the minimum daily wage in the national capital region to Php1,000, from the current Php512. Another labour group said the 4-day work week would lead to financial dislocations for daily wage earners.

What did Duterte’s other advisers say?

The Philippines’ Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has also backed Chua’s proposal for a shortened work week, and also threw his support for the extension of work-from-home arrangements.

”We support the proposal for a four-day work week and the extension of work-from-home set up for the public to avoid traveling,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired Wednesday.

When is the decision on the 4-day work week proposal expected?

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told local radio station DZBB that the president is expected to make the decision on Monday (March 21, 2022). Duterte is still studying Chua’s recommendation, said his spokesperson. “This is a recommendation, a suggestion to alleviate its possible negative effect,” he said.

On Tuesday, Duterte decided to retain the collection of excise taxes on petroleum products despite the big jumps in fuel prices. On the other hand, the president approved Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’s proposal to distribute additional Php200 in monthly subsidies to each of the 12 million poor Filipinos who are under the conditional cash transfer program known as "4Ps" for one year.

How did the 5-day work week originate?

It’s a fairly recent phenomenon. During the Great Depression (August 1929 – March 1933), US President Herbert Hoover called for a reduction in work hours in lieu of layoffs. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established a five-day, 40-hour workweek for workers.

Are there countries following a 4-day work week?

Officially, the Gambia civil service follows a four-day work week, introduced for public officials by president Yahya Jammeh on February 1, 2013. Working hours were limited to Monday through Thursday, 08:00 to 18:00, with Friday designated as a day of rest to allow residents more time for prayer and agriculture. From January 1, 2022, the UAE has adopted a 4-1/2 day work week, from Monday till half of Friday. The school week was also changed in UAE from January 1, 2022.

What are the countries considering a 4-day work week?

There are currently on-going international “trials” including companies in the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The trial was launched by 4 Day Week Global in January 2022. Employees of participating companies will work one less day a week with no reduction in pay.

What are the benefits of a shorter work week?

A Gallup poll conducted in March 2020 showed that while individuals working four-day weeks reported lower levels of burnout and higher levels of well-being compared to people working five- or six-day weeks, the percentage of actively “disengaged" workers was lowest among those who worked five-day weeks.

Gallup found that for employee engagement, the quality of the work experience was more important than the number of days worked. In short, simply shortening the workweek is not enough to improve employee engagement in a poorly-managed organisation.

The survey showed that, in general, workers do place a high value on schedule flexibility — which can help lower stress levels and achieve a better work-life balance, allowing them to be more engaged at work.