HOURS OF WORK OF EMPLOYEES
Article 83 of the Labor Code enunciates that the normal hours of work of any employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day. This is exclusive of the one (1) hour lunch break. The Supreme Court explained the rationale of this provision to safeguard the welfare of employees and to minimize unemployment.
It must be emphasized that work hours exceeding eight (8) hours can still be done provided that there is an arrangement between the employer and employee for work beyond 8 hours and that the corresponding overtime pay is given. An employee who performs work exceeding eight (8) hours is entitled to an additional compensation equivalent to his regular wage plus at least 25% thereof.
Under Article 84 of the Labor Code, hours worked shall include (a) all time during which an employee is required to be on duty or to be at a prescribed workplace; and (b) all time during which an employee is suffered or permitted to work. Rest periods of short duration during working hours shall be counted as hours worked.
Under the Implementing Rules of the Labor Code, the following general principles shall govern in determining whether the time spent by an employee is considered hours worked for purposes of this Rule:
(a) All hours are hours worked which the employee is required to give his employer, regardless of whether or not such hours are spent in productive labor or involve physical or mental exertion.
(b) An employee need not leave the premises of the work place in order that his rest period shall not be counted, it being enough that he stops working, may rest completely and may leave his work place, to go elsewhere, whether within or outside the premises of his work place.
(c) If the work performed was necessary, or it benefited the employer, or the employee could not abandon his work at the end of his normal working hours because he had no replacement, all time spent for such work shall be considered as hours worked, if the work was with the knowledge of his employer or immediate supervisor.
(d) The time during which an employee is inactive by reason of interruptions in his work beyond his control shall be considered working time either if the imminence of the resumption of work requires the employee’s presence at the place of work or if the interval is too brief to be utilized effectively and gainfully in the employee’s own interest.
Pertinently, waiting time spent by an employee shall also be considered as working time if waiting is an integral part of his work or the employee is required or engaged by the employer to wait. For example, a company driver who spends his time waiting for his boss in the office is considered to be working.
Furthermore, an employee who is required to remain on call in the employer’s premises or so close thereto that he cannot use the time effectively and gainfully for his own purpose shall be considered as working while on call. On the other hand, an employee who is not required to leave word at his home or with company officials where he may be reached is not working while on call.
As for travel time, travel from home to office and vice-versa is not compensable. However, travel away from home on official duty is considered as compensable.
With regard to attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, and other similar activities, it shall not be counted as working time if all of the following conditions are met:
(a) Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular working hours;
(b) Attendance is in fact voluntary; and
(c) The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.
Anent employee meal time, the Labor Code mandates that every employer shall give his employees, not less than one (1) hour time-off for regular meals, except in the following cases when a meal period of not less than twenty (20) minutes may be given by the employer provided that such shorter meal period is credited as compensable hours worked of the employee:
(a) Where the work is non-manual work in nature or does not involve strenuous physical exertion;
(b) Where the establishment regularly operates not less than sixteen (16) hours a day;
(c) In case of actual or impending emergencies or there is urgent work to be performed on machineries, equipment or installations to avoid serious loss which the employer would otherwise suffer; and
(d) Where the work is necessary to prevent serious loss of perishable goods.
Rest periods or coffee breaks running from five (5) to twenty (20) minutes shall be considered as compensable working time.
It is worthy to note that the above provisions on the hours of work shall apply to employees in all establishments and undertakings whether for profit or not. However, it does not cover government employees, managerial employees, field personnel, members of the family of the employer who are dependent on him for support, domestic helpers, persons in the personal service of another, and workers who are paid by results. Managerial employees refer to those whose primary duty consists of the management of the establishment in which they are employed or of a department or subdivision thereof, and to other officers or members of the managerial staff. On the other hand, field personnel shall refer to non-agricultural employees who regularly perform their duties away from the principal place of business or branch office of the employer and whose actual hours of work in the field cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.
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