The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is not in favor of the fourteen (14) bills filed in Congress declaring non-working public holidays in specific localities.
In its position paper forwarded to Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Senate Committee on Local Government Chairman, ECOP pointed out that presently, there are a total of eighteen (18) national non-working days in the Philippines, twelve (12) of which are paid holidays and six (6) special days, as well as three (3) Muslim holidays.
Aside from holidays and special days there are also paid leaves to which male and female wage and salary workers are entitled as provided by law such as service incentive leave, paternity leave and solo parent leave for males and service incentive leave, maternity leave, solo parent leave, battered women leave and gynecological leave for females.
Computing the number of working days left in a year if all the national non-working days, corresponding paid leaves for male and female workers as well as the mandatory rest day per week to which all workers are entitled were to be added on an annual basis, the working days left for males are 276 days equivalent to 9.2 months while the working days left for females are 168 or 153 days equivalent to 5.6 months or 5.1 months.
ECOP President Edgardo G. Lacson noted that the number of working days in a year becomes significant if correlated to the level of labor productivity of the economy as a key factor of competitiveness. “It is sad to say that for the past several years Philippine labor productivity has stagnated as almost the lowest in the region.” Lacson bewailed.
Data culled from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) on comparative labor productivity among Asian countries at constant prices from 2005-2009 (in US Dollars) indicate that Philippine labor productivity averaged $848. On the other hand, labor productivity for the same period averaged $58, 500 in Hong Kong; $57,690 in Singapore; $43,997 in Brunei; $38,111 in Taipei, China; $37,262 in Korea; $13,480 in Malaysia; $3,192 in Thailand; $4,042 in China; $2,068 in Indonesia; $2,583 in Mongolia; $797 in Cambodia; and $623 in Vietnam.
Such labor productivity impacts heavily on the overall competitiveness of the country, Lacson emphasized. According to the World Competitiveness Scoreboard, Philippine competitiveness continues to rank as the lowest in the region based on the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. The same source indicated that the Philippines ranked 41st among 59 economies this year, with Indonesia ranking 37th; Thailand, 27th; Japan, 26th; Republic of Korea, 22nd, and China Mainland, 19th.
Lacson highlighted that a major factor in dragging down overall labor productivity is the relatively lower productivity of the huge informal sector which constitutes nearly 76% of employed labor, most of whom are marginalized self-employed and unpaid family workers.
The ECOP leadership presented the foregoing data to emphasize that any further reduction in the number of working days through additional non-working days or holidays would undoubtedly lead to the further deterioration of labor productivity and competitiveness as well as increased cost of doing business.
“Employers who find it necessary to operate on such holidays will have to pay an additional 30% of premium pay over and above the regular wage of workers for the first eight (8) hours of work,” Lacson argued.
ECOP prefers that proposed non-working public holidays in specific localities be celebrated as special but working days instead of non-working holidays, Lacson added.