Are employees entitled to Saturdays off as their rest day? If work needs to be done on a Saturday, can I ask employees to come in? Can they change the day off if they choose to? We tackle these in today’s article.

My friend and I were talking the other day and he related, “Attorney, I’m handling recruitment right now and I’m having a hard time with the applicants.” I asked, “In what aspect?”

He relayed, “Well, the interviews go well, even the compensation package, but the applicants back out when we discuss the reporting time. When they find out that our company requires employees to report on Saturdays, they say — no thanks!”

I laughed because he wasn’t the only one who encounters issues with this. Applicants appear to be allergic to reporting on Saturdays. He continues, “In fact, they seem shocked and offended that I opened the possibility of having them report on a Saturday. One even accused me of violating labor laws if I do that.

At that juncture, I offered my friend, “Would you like me to tell you what the law says about that?” He quickly responds, “Please!” In this article, I will be sharing the points we discussed then.

Are Saturdays Legally Designated Rest Days?

I’m about to smash a major misconception here:

Saturday is not a legally designated rest day.

But let’s take that further… neither is Sunday for that matter. Yes, this may come as a shock to you because you’ve always thought that everyone rests on a Saturday or Sunday.

What does the law say?

Let’s discuss what the law says specifically:

ART. 91. Right to weekly rest day. – (a) It shall be the duty of every employer, whether operating for profit or not, to provide each of his employees a rest period of not less than twenty-four (24) consecutive hours after every six (6) consecutive normal work days.

Now, let’s simplify this further.

1. Any day can be a rest day

The law never specified Saturday or Sunday as the specific rest day. The law only requires that you give a rest day once every 6 days. And this day may fall on any day of the week.

Supposing that the employee worked from Tuesday. If you add 6 days, the 6th day would fall on a Sunday. That means that this employee would be entitled to Monday as his rest day. Again, it doesn’t matter which day you designate, as long as one rest day is given every 6 consecutive working days.

What’s the implication of this? If the employer needs the employee to work on a Saturday, they can do so.

2. You can give more than 1 rest day

This is the meat of the question above. As an exercise of your management prerogative, you can give more than 1 rest day to your employee. This is why most employees enjoy Saturday and Sundays off. Their employees had chosen to give more than the minimum required rest day in the labor code.

Does this mean that the employer has waived their rights to have employees work on weekends? Certainly not. If the work demands it, employers can have their employees come in on a Saturday. This is covered by Article 92 which states:

ART. 92. When employer may require work on a rest day. – The employer may require his employees to work on any day:

(a) In case of actual or impending emergencies caused by serious accident, fire, flood, typhoon, earthquake, epidemic or other disaster or calamity to prevent loss of life and property, or imminent danger to public safety;

(b) In cases of urgent work to be performed on the machinery, equipment, or installation, to avoid serious loss which the employer would otherwise suffer;

(c) In the event of abnormal pressure of work due to special circumstances, where the employer cannot ordinarily be expected to resort to other measures;

(d) To prevent loss or damage to perishable goods;

(e) Where the nature of the work requires continuous operations and the stoppage of work may result in irreparable injury or loss to the employer; and

(f) Under other circumstances analogous or similar to the foregoing as determined by the Secretary of Labor and Employment.

Can the employees complain and refuse to legally work on weekends?

I’m seeing 2 circumstances where it would be legally supported to refuse the order to report on a Saturday.

  1. When the employee has been working for the past 6 days. He has earned the right to rest on the 7th day.
  2. When their employment contract says so. If one of the benefits spelled out in the contract says that they are entitled to Saturdays and Sundays off.

In these cases, then the employee should take it up with management and cite why they are entitled to get Saturdays or Sundays off to avoid more friction and misunderstandings.

3. You can choose your rest day if based on religious grounds.

As a general rule, employers get to determine when the employees report and when they get to rest. However, the law says that they can request a specific day of the week if they want to take the day off to worship. This is what the law says when it mentions “rest days based on religious grounds” under Article 91 (b):

"(b) The employer shall determine and schedule the weekly rest day of his employees subject to collective bargaining agreement and to such rules and regulations as the Secretary of Labor and Employment may provide. However, the employer shall respect the preference of employees as to their weekly rest day when such preference is based on religious grounds."

Therefore, if your religion worships on a Saturday, you can bring this to the attention of your employer so that allowances can be made and you get Saturday off to exercise your religion. As much as possible, employers are encouraged by the law to leave a little elbow room and agree to requests of this nature.

What do we do if the employer cannot grant the request? The law says that you guys should talk it over. Try to have a little give and take between each other so that everyone’s needs get addressed. At the very minimum, the employee should be able to get 2 days to worship on the designated day in a month.

Recap

So what did we learn today?

  • The law never mentioned Saturday or Sunday as the rest day.
  • All it says is that employers should let employees rest after 6 days of working hard. You guys get to choose the day.

Now that we've simplified this for you, go out there and make better choices!

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