March 16 (Livemint) – The Philippines is mulling the idea of a shorter four-day work week and more subsidies to affected sectors to cut costs, instead of suspending excise taxes on petroleum products.
According to finance secretary Carlos Dominguez, the government is expecting to collect 131.4 billion pesos ($2.5 billion) this year from excise taxes on fuel.
If it yields to some lawmakers and transport groups’ call to suspend the levy, this year’s revenue will be cut by 0.5% of gross domestic product.
Instead, economic planning secretary Karl Chua pitched for more direct aid to affected sectors, including the poorest 50% of households. He also proposed a four-day work week to reduce costs for businesses and workers, a move done in past oil shocks. A three-month wage subsidy has also been proposed by the labor department.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has fanned oil prices, sending shock waves to nations including the Philippines, which imports most of its fuel requirements. The commodity’s rise retreated, as attention turned to possible reduced demand amid a Covid-19 flare-up in China.
Prior to this, Belgium gave its employees the right to ask for a four-day workweek under a Covid-era shake-up of its labour laws.
The four-day workweek is the most eye-catching change. It would allow employees to clock up 38 hours of work over four days instead of five, opening the possibility to permanent long weekends, or a day of parenting. All without any reduction in salary.
The flexibility principle it carries would also allow an employee to work a higher number of hours in one week to have a much lighter week the next.
Due to this, Iceland tested a similar model from 2015 and 2019. However, it reduced the working week from 40 to 35 or 36 hours and maintained pay levels.
After the test phase, trade unions and associations negotiated permanent cuts in working hours. Some 86% of employees now have the right to a four-day week.
Scotland is also currently testing the four-day work week, with the state supporting participating companies with about £10 million (ca. $13.6 million). I
In Germany, it is mainly smaller start-ups that are experimenting with a shorter working week. But in other countries, such as Japan, it is bigger companies that are venturing into this territory.
Panasonic Corp. in January introduced an optional four-day work week, one of a small but growing number of Japanese companies joining the global trend.