21 January 2020

Following its issuance of revised guidelines on flexible working hours or ‘flexitime’ in government in November last year, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) enjoined agencies to review their internal rules on working hours, taking into consideration the respective situations of their employees as they travel to and from their place of work.

The Commission clarified that the guidelines, contained in CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, s. 2019, does not automatically change the work schedules of government employees. Rather, it directs agencies to formulate their internal rules in the implementation of flexitime with the approval of the head of the department, office, or agency, and subject to certain conditions.

The flexible work schedule must abide by the following conditions: that officials and employees shall not render less than a total of 40 hours a week for five (5) days a week, exclusive of time for lunch; that working hours shall not start earlier than 7 a.m. and end later than 7 p.m.; and that the public is assured of the continuous services of the agency from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. even during lunch break.

“Certain conditions must be in place to manage the expectations of the public. Flexitime is allowed but the agency must ensure that its services are available anytime within 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala.

She added that, with flexitime in place, government agencies may even consider extending their frontline service hours before 8 a.m. and beyond 5 p.m. for the benefit of those who need to transact with government but cannot do so during regular office hours.

Further, under the guidelines, agencies may opt to consider Saturdays and Sundays as regular workdays, effectively granting affected employees two rest days from Mondays to Fridays. In such case, services rendered during Saturdays and Sundays considered as regular workdays shall not be treated as overtime.

Agencies are now allowed to set at their preferred time the conduct of flag raising ceremony on the first working day of the week, as well as the flag lowering ceremony on the last working day of the week.

The guidelines also reiterated CSC-DBM Joint Circular No. 2, s. 2015 allowing the grant of compensation, whether overtime pay or compensatory time-off as may be authorized by the head of department or agency, for services rendered beyond 40 hours a week.

Strict implementation

The Commission clarified that the implementation of flexitime scheme does not amend or invalidate civil service rules and regulations pertaining to habitual tardiness, habitual absenteeism, and performance management.

“Agencies must continuously monitor the performance of their employees to make sure changes in working hours do not adversely affect the delivery of government programs and services,” said Chairperson Bala.

Employee welfare

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, s. 2019 was issued as part of government strategies to address traffic congestion and its effects to workers in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities in the country.

“Flexibility in the daily work schedules is a way to spread the volume of people on the road, especially during peak hours, as well as consider the plight of motorists and commuters who lose valuable rest and family time due to heavy traffic,” said Chairperson Bala.