Firms told to adopt flexi work schedule amid high heat; Senator lobbies for incentives

Firms told to adopt flexi work schedule amid high heat; Senator lobbies for incentives
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AS THE extreme heat continues to affect Cebuanos, there exists a group of individuals compelled to endure the scorching sun to provide for their families.

Earlier this week, SunStar Cebu shared a series of photos on social media depicting a group of construction workers persisting in their tasks at a site along MJ Cuenco Avenue in Cebu City, even during the intense heat of 11 a.m.

This is amid the advice from health and weather experts to refrain from outdoor activities during this period, with the heat index reaching levels of “extreme caution,” as reported by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas.

The heat index or “feels-like” temperature combines air temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather would feel to the human body. Under Pagasa’s classification, it suggests heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible, and further activity may result in heatstroke.

The photos posted online garnered over a thousand reactions from the public, with comments expressing worries over the construction workers’ health and safety.

One Facebook user suggested that workers should have paused from their jobs and resumed when the heat subsides.

“Dapat mo rest sila [sa] udto ug balik sila alas kwatro until midnight and magovertime. Kalooy intawn kaayo!,” he said.

(They should rest every noon and get back to work at 4 p.m. until midnight and they can overtime. I pity them!)

Last April 8, 2024, a national media outlet reported that Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma announced that the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) advocates for a flexible work arrangement to safeguard workers’ health against heat-related illnesses.

“Employers and employees could agree on a flexible work arrangement until such time that the weather condition has improved while maintaining the total number of work hours,” Laguesma said.

He urged employers to provide free drinking water near workstations and ensure effective ventilation and heat insulation in all work areas to eliminate heat and humidity.

Labor groups including the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Federation of Free Workers support the Dole’s action, reminding employers of Labor Advisory 8, series of 2023.

This advisory instructs employers to assess health risks due to extreme heat and take appropriate measures to mitigate them.


Additionally, Senator Jinggoy Estrada urged employers to offer additional incentives or benefits to those who brave the heat. He emphasized that these workers sustain the economy during weather disturbances, particularly despite the high heat.

“It is important that we give recognition and value to the dedication of our employees who continue to work despite the hot weather conditions,” the senator said.

Edgar Sinamban, 52, a construction worker from Cebu City said it would be greatly beneficial if additional compensation were provided to those who work despite the heat.

He said on Friday, April 12, that he would use the extra income to buy rice for his family and save some for future use.

Pagasa earlier reported that the high heat is due to the ongoing dry hot season and ongoing drought by the El Niño phenomenon.

Weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino of Pagasa Visayas said that Cebuanos will feel the effects of the high heat until the end of May, with the possibility of having 51 degrees Celsius heat index, considered under the dangerous category, which can lead to heat cramps, exhaustion and possibly heat stroke with continued outdoor activity.

Additionally, Eclarino said that historical data shows Cebu typically experiences its highest temperatures in May.

On May 31, 2010, also during the El Niño phenomenon, the province recorded surface temperature at 37 degrees Celsius and the highest heat index at 49 degrees Celsius. / KJF


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