A Senate measure to shorten the governmental workweek has been filed during the last Senate session in mid-December 2017.
Sen. Sixto Igisomar’s (R-Saipan) Senate Bill 20-85 seeks to establish a 30-hour workweek for non-essential government employees. Specifically, a non-essential government employee would be expected to work from 9am to 3pm from Monday to Friday, if the measure gets enacted.
According to the bill, the intent of shortening the workweek is to promote healthy families for employees to care for their children from 7am to 9am and from 3pm to 5pm. The bill states that the intention of a shorter workweek is also to allow for an allowance for government employees to take care of personal tasks or errands in the daytime as well as encourage employees to enjoy fishing and farming during the weekdays.
On the CNMI government’s side, the shorter workweek means reduced utility bill expenses. Utilizing a six-hour workday would yield “substantial savings” from the utility bill for power and water used from 7:30am to 9am and 3pm to 5pm. Related operational expenditures such as office supplies, gas consumption, and more would be reduced with a six-hour workday.
Citing workday hours in the mainland U.S.A. as well as those in Europe, flexible work schedules have resulted in “happier, healthier, and more productive employees.”
With lower work hours, S.B. 20-85 also has a provision inserted that would adjust the salaries for vacant or new non-essential employee positions to comply with a 30-hour workweek and shall take effect in the next fiscal year after the enactment of the bill. Regarding overtime, the special rate of 1.5 percent additional pay would be implemented for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week.
Included in S.B. 20-85 are provisions that mandate the Department of Finance to establish online systems for the filing of businesses and licensing documents as well as making payments of government taxes and fees.
The provision was inserted since a 30-hour workweek is for sure to affect the services such as business licensing and tax and fee payments. According to S.B. 20-85, the projected savings from the lower work hours could be used to establish online systems to promote convenient and efficient online filing of documents payments.