September 14, 2016

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) seconded Malacañang’s reminder to government employees to follow regulations on work hours.

Under Section 5, Rule XVII of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, all government officials and employees are required to render eight working hours a day for five days a week, or a total of 40 hours a week excluding time for lunch. The normal working hours shall be from 8 AM to 12 NN, and 1 PM to 5 PM.

Moreover, Section 6 of the same Rule allows the adoption of flexible working hours or ‘flexi-time’. CSC Memorandum Circular No. 14, s. 1989 prescribed that the flexi-time should not start earlier than 7 AM and not end later than 7 PM. In no case shall the flexi-time arrangement be occasionally changed by the employee at his or her convenience.

Those who fail to observe the eight-hour workday through consistent tardiness, undertime, and loafing from duty during office hours may be administratively charged and penalized with suspension or dismissal from service pursuant to civil service law, rules, and regulations.

The CSC urged all government agencies to adopt appropriate mechanisms to strictly monitor and record attendance of employees such as the use of biometric time clocks and other forms of attendance systems.

The Commission also reiterated the provisions under Republic Act No. 9485, or the Anti-Red Tape Act, stating that frontline service offices should ensure that clients who arrive at their premises within official working hours, including noon break, should be attended to and served. Appropriate working schedules for employees such as rotation system or sliding flexi-time shall be implemented to ensure that these offices are adequately manned during lunch and snack break.

Beyond 8 hours

The CSC stressed that government workers may also be asked to render services beyond the eight-hour requirement from time to time as part of one’s commitment, as public service essentially entails upholding public interest over personal interest.

“Giving oneself to public service more than what is required or expected is a virtue that all public officials and employees must uphold,” CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said.

However, in cases when it is fair and proper to compensate overtime service, guidelines contained in CSC-Department of Budget and Management Joint Circular No. 1, s. 2015 should be observed.

The said Joint Circular prescribes that employees may be authorized to render overtime service only when extremely necessary, such as when a particular work or activity cannot be completed within the regular work hours and its non-completion will cause financial loss to the government, embarrass the government due to its inability to meet its commitments, or negate the purposes for which the work or activity was conceived.

Generally, overtime services shall be remunerated through compensatory time off (CTO). Overtime pay shall only be authorized when the application of CTO for all overtime hours would adversely affect the operations of the agency.

CTO refers to the number of hours or days an employee is excused from reporting for work with full pay and benefits. This arrangement is availed of in blocks of four or eight hours, equivalent to a half or full day leave from work, and may be used continuously up to a maximum of five consecutive days per single availment or on staggered basis within the year.

The Joint Circular also provides a list of priority activities that may warrant rendition of necessary overtime services, which include essential public services during emergency or critical situations, seasonal work such as preparation of budgets and annual reports in order to meet the deadlines, and services rendered by drivers and other immediate staff of officials when they are required to keep the same working hours as these officials.

The CSC stressed that overtime services cannot be used to offset non-completion of the eight-hour workday.

Efficiency is key

Chairperson Bala reminded state workers to practice efficiency and time management in the performance of their functions.

“We must learn to work diligently and to use our time and resources wisely. This would show that we are professional, committed, and sincere in attending to the needs of the public,” she said.