9 November 2020 - The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has amended the guidelines on alternative work arrangements (AWA) in government to align with the community quarantine rules issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Under CSC Resolution No. 2000912 promulgated on 14 October 2020, and circularized via CSC Memorandum Circular No. 18, s. 2020, agencies located in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) shall adopt work-from-home arrangement, while skeleton workforce may be allowed unless a different operational capacity is provided in agencies providing essential or critical services.

Meanwhile, agencies located in areas placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) may adopt four-day workweek in combination with other AWAs, provided that the required 40-hour workweek is complied with.

On the other hand, “staggered working hours” is renamed as “work shifting/flexible (staggered) working hours” to mean the adoption of flexible reporting hours as a way to limit the number of employees in an office at a given time. This AWA may be adopted regardless of the type of community quarantine being implemented where the agency is located.

Vulnerable workers

Employees below 21 years old and 60 years old and above, as well as those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risk, and pregnant women, and those who live in ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ areas shall be under work-from-home arrangement, except when their services are indispensable under the circumstances or when office work is permitted. Those living with persons with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risk may also choose to adopt this type of AWA in areas under ECQ, MECQ and GCQ.

Agency heads shall give priority to the preferred reporting schedule of said group of people, including nursing mothers and persons with disabilities (PWDs), whose services are indispensable under the circumstances.

An additional requirement in MC 18 is the submission of a medical certificate and other relevant medical records for employees with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risk/conditions requesting for a different work schedule or arrangement.

To manage performance of work-from-home employees, agencies may adopt performance standards to guide them in the delivery of assigned tasks, such as the use of a point system.

Rules on supplemental pay

As work-from-home arrangement is output-oriented, employees adopting this type of AWA are not entitled to compensatory overtime credit (COC) or overtime pay.

Meanwhile, employees assigned as skeleton workforce shall be entitled to COC or overtime pay for hours rendered beyond the normal 8 hours on scheduled workdays or 40 hours a week, and those rendered on rest days, holidays, and special non-working days.

On the other hand, employees assigned as skeleton workforce in areas under ECQ and MECQ shall be entitled to hazard pay, on top of the COC or overtime pay as well as other applicable benefits.

Other amendments

The CSC also requires agencies to consider their mandate or functions, aside from the type of community quarantine being implemented in the area, in determining the appropriate or applicable type of AWA to be adopted.

Moreover, in implementing AWAs, agencies located in GCQ and MGCQ are mandated to ensure continuous delivery of public services for the entire workweek.

Agency internal guidelines

Agencies shall establish their internal guidelines on the alternative work arrangement/s they adopted and implemented including the alternative work arrangement/s of employees who are in transit (daily/weekly) in reporting to work and going home across quarantine areas (ECQ/MECQ/GCQ/MGCQ), as well as from a quarantine area to a quarantine-free area and vice versa. Said guidelines shall guide the administration of employees’ work attendance and absences, employee responsibilities, and benefits during the implementation of community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.