by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
Legal Aid 101: Know Your Labor Laws
By Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
Working hours in the food business run longer compared to office-run businesses. The seasonality of demand in the food business dictates that working hours and even the branch-to-branch reassignment of employees should still be compliant with labor laws.
The business owner can regulate work hours according to the needs of the business. Labor laws recognize and respect the exercise by management of certain rights and prerogatives. These include hiring, work assignments, working regulations, and the supervision of workers.
The management’s prerogative is subject to the limitations imposed by law, a collective bargaining agreement, an employment contract, employer policy, and the general principles of fair play.
REGULAR WORK HOURS
Article 83 of the Labor Code (LC) provides that regular work hours should not exceed eight hours per day. Any time worked in excess of eight hours is considered overtime, for which a premium on the hour wage rate is added.
For a restaurant which has downtime, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner being the peak work hours, a restaurant worker’s hours can be cut into shifts so that the total number or regular hours worked by each employee does not exceed eight hours.
For example, if a worker’s first shift begins at 6 am to serve breakfast; his shift may end at 10 am and begin again from 11 am to 3 pm. With those two shifts he completes his eight-hour work day and serves customers during the busiest hours without being compensated for waiting time.
WAITING TIME BETWEEN SHIFTS
Waiting time not compensable as long as the employee is not on call during said waiting time, and the waiting time doesn’t benefit the employer.
If the employee is required to be at the employees’ lounge in the restaurant and is waiting to be called to work anytime, then such is compensable working time.
If the employee is allowed to leave the restaurant but must be accessible to the employer anytime with the corresponding duty to report for work at any time, then such waiting time is also compensable. This is according to Section 5-b, Rule I, Hours of Work, Book III, Conditions of Employment, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code (ORILC).
REST PERIODS AND MEAL TIMES
Waiting time is distinguished from brief rest periods, which are of such short durations and don’t serve the employee’s interest.
The Labor Code provides that brief rest periods are counted as hours worked and any period of time which is less than 20 minutes—designated as either as a rest or coffee break—shall be considered as compensable working time.
Regular meal breaks, however, must not be less than one hour unless the following conditions exist:
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 when there is urgent work to be performed on machinery, 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. This is according to Section 7, Rule I, Book III of the ORILC.
No employee may be made to work beyond eight hours a day against his will. However—under Section 10, Rule I, Book III of the ORILC—there are instances when overtime may be demanded by an employer:
a. When the country is at war or when any other national or local emergency has been declared by Congress or the Chief Executive;
b. When it is necessary to prevent loss of life or property, in case of imminent danger to public safety, due to actual or impending emergency in the locality caused by serious accident, fires, floods, typhoons, earthquakes, epidemics, or other disasters or calamities;
c. When there is urgent work to be performed on machines, installations, or equipment, in order to avoid serious loss or damage to the employer or some other causes of similar nature;
d. When the work is necessary to prevent loss or damage to perishable goods;
e. When the completion or continuation of work started before the eighth hour is necessary to prevent serious obstruction or prejudice to the business or operations of the employer; or
f. When overtime work is necessary to avail of favorable weather or environmental conditions where performance or quality of work is dependent thereon.
Under Article 90 of the Labor Code, the cost for overtime pay which is paid at a minimum a premium rate of percent of the hourly wage rate (HWR). This rate is not a fixed rate since the employer may increase the overtime rate (OR) in accordance with his discretion. The formula for computing overtime rate is: HWR + OR x Hours of Overtime Worked.
NIGHT TIME WORK FOR WOMEN
Article 130 of the LC which provided that women are not allowed to work at night between 10 pm to 6 pm the following day in industrial, commercial, and agricultural industries has been repealed by Republic Act (RA) No. 10151.
RA No. 10151—An Act Allowing the Employment of Night Workers—was approved last June 21, 2011.
Night time work for women is now unrestricted. Still, Article 158 of RA 10151 added protective measures during and after pregnancy to enable them to have alternate working hours for 16 weeks in consideration of their condition.