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House approves bill on 48-hour work week for medical professionals

Last Saturday, the House of Representatives has approved a third and final reading of House Bill 1652.

This allows employers an option to give employees four work days a week. However, they must work up to 12 hours a day.

The total required hours per week is 40 to 48 hours per week. Anything beyond that and employees should receive overtime pay.

What about medical professionals?

Also noted in the bill was that, “Health personnel in cities and municipalities with a population of at least one million (1,000,000) or in hospitals and clinics with a bed capacity of at least one hundred (100) shall hold regular office hours for eight (8) hours a day, for five (5) days a week, exclusive of time for meals, except where the exigencies of the service require that such personnel work for six (6) days or forty-eight (48) hours, in which case, they shall be entitled to additional compensation of at least thirty percent (30%) of their regular wage for work on the sixth day.”

“Health personnel” were defined by the bill as resident physicians, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, laboratory technicians, paramedical technicians, psychologists, midwives, attendants and all other hospital or clinic personnel.

Yes, resident physicians.

Will this be implemented? Would that mean that the pre-duty-from rotations would be modified?

The previous Labor Code stated that health personnel should be given 30% in overtime pay beyond forty-eight (48) hours and that employees should not work more than eight hours a day. The latest revision emphasizes that the normal hours of work should not exceed forty-eight (48) hours per week.

Implementation is another question altogether.

In the light of the recent modifications of internship and clerkship hours during the past year by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges, wherein internship duties should no longer exceed twelve (12) hours, and that, clerkship duty hours should not exceed forty-eight (48) hours per week, this brings some hope (as well as skepticism) to the medical field. Internship and clerkship hours have already been adjusted in plenty of hospitals, though some still stick to the traditional 8-hour pre-duty, 24-hour duty and 8-hour post-duty system every 3 days.

Should the law be implemented in residency programs, residents ought to be entitled to an additional 30% of their regular work wage per hour in excess of forty-eight (48) hours a week. They should also be entitled to a weekly rest day not less than twenty-four (24) consecutive hours after every six (6) consecutive work days. In our current scheme, residents in most specialties are given one rest day every three weeks, and have 80-hour work weeks.

Further news from the Secretary of Labor and Employment will be announced regarding the implementing rules and regulations within 90 days of the law’s implementation.

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