Recently, the Civil Service Commission issued an advisory reminding all government agencies to impose and monitor the core hours of its offices in ensuring performance of their public service duties to the public. This includes ensuring that the 40-hours per week work requirement is fully rendered by each government employee.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, Series of 2019 was then issued directing agencies to formulate their internal rules in the implementation of flexitime with the approval of the head of the agency. What is required is that the public is assured of continuous services from 8AM to 5PM, including lunch breaks. Nonetheless, agencies may consider extending their frontline service hours before 8Am or beyond 5PM, and even opt to consider Saturdays and Sundays as regular workdays provided the employee is able to avail of a the mandated 2-rest days per week.
RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Act
In 2014, pursuant to a directive to review the availment of benefits under the Solo Parents Act, the Policy Development and Planning Bureau (PDPB) was tasked to conduct a survey on flexi-time work schedules and this resulted in a policy paper referred to the Human Resources Management and Development Bureau (HRMDB) for consideration of the Secretary. This effort was also fully supported by the Gender and Development – Technical Working Group (GAD-TWG).
This policy was eventually reiterated in the April 11, 2017 Memorandum from the Secretary signed by then DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo implementing a FULL flexitime schedule for DSWD Central Office employees.
The previous DSWD Management then considered the Solo Parents Act of 2000 or Republic Act No. 8972 which specifically grants Solo Parents a “flexible work schedule”. To wit:
“This refers to the right of a solo-parent employee to vary his/her arrival and departure time without affecting the core work hours as defined by the employer.
The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo-parents, as long as it shall not affect individual and company productivity.”
GAD Gender-Sensitive, Women-Friendly Policy
Besides the clear provision of the law under RA 8972 otherwise known as the Solo Parents Act which employers are bound to grant their workers whether in the private or public sector, the general sentiments gathered from the DSWD employees is that a “sliding” or full-flexitime is most favorable as working hours for single parents and DSWD staff who are serving as primary caregivers of sick, disabled, or ageing family members. With this arrangement, they are able to take care of their family members and fulfill their familial duties without compromising their office responsibilities. It must be remembered that the DSWD is also primarily tasked to monitor the implementation of the Solo Parents Act as Chair and convenor of the Special Review Committee (SRC) of RA 8972, in addition to the fact that it is incumbent upon it as an employer to grant said benefit. As such, the DSWD GAD-TWG has consistently claimed this as a gender-sensitive, if not women-friendly policy of the Department.
Heavy Traffic and Problematic Public Transport
CSC Chairperson Alicia R. Bala, a former DSWD Undersecretary and GAD Champion, rationalized the issuance of the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, S. 2019 as “part of the government strategies to address traffic congestion” and this “flexibility in the daily work schedules is a way to spread the volume of people on the road, especially during peak hours”. And admittedly, most of DSWD rank-and-file employees are daily commuters and have to contend with the difficulties of public transport from Monday to Friday. Not all of them are able to catch the very few DSWD shuttle services provided to the employees, and only DSWD officials have assigned service vehicles and are provided Representation and Travel Allowance (RATA). It makes sense for the DSWD management to adopt policies that are considerate of employees’ welfare and interest, and not impose restrictive rules which will make it more burdensome for everyone.
Note that for most DSWD employees, they understand that the nature of true development work requires them to render more than the daily 8-hrs or 40-hr workweek, oftentimes sacrificing personal and family time just to be able to do their job. The government is never “cheated” out of the CSC-required working hours by DSWD employees because most of the time they already render service over and above the call of duty and beyond the regular office hours.