Telecommuting laws IRR tweaks underway — Pascual
Workers in the information technology-business process management may enjoy working from home in the future, as the Trade and the Labor Departments are reviewing the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act that classifies telecommuting as a legitimate work arrangement.
Telecommuting is when an employee works from an alternative workplace using telecommunications and other computer technologies or works from home.
During the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’ 43rd National Conference of Employers on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said they are finalizing the tweaked IRR, which may give much weight to the request of the IT-BPM sector to continue their work-from-home arrangement, being the future setup in most industries worldwide.
“Even before we assumed office, we have been talking about these work-from-home arrangements, and while legislation is a long process, we are now revising the IRR concerning the said arrangement. We want to come out with a revised IRR before the end of the extension on 12 September,” Laguesma said.
He added that employees have a lot that can be done at home, as the government believes in enterprise connectivity, so long as companies who want to employ the WFH setup can provide the services their clients need.
“We also want to ensure the delineation of benefits will be included in the IRR, which is important for workers,” he emphasized.
Earlier, Jack Madrid, president of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, said its partners in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had advised their members that the 30-percent work-from-home arrangement can be extended until the end of March 2023, as it is well within the PEZA law.
PEZA, during the term of Charito Plaza, decided to grant IT-BPM locators to allow 30-percent WFH arrangement via letters of authority. The extension is set to expire on 12 September 2022.
Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Fred Pascual supported the IT-BPM’s bid to continue to enjoy WFH arrangements.
“The pandemic has shown that working from home for BPOs will be a viable alternative, in fact, a preferred alternative by many employees in the BPO sector. And we are addressing that, and there are solutions. We are trying to see whether the amendments to the PEZA Law are a more efficient way are of doing it, and there’s also the possibility of shifting incentive registration from PEZA to the Board of Investments, as the BOI is not subjected to the same rules imposed for those PEZA-registered companies,” Pascual stressed.
The trade chief maintained the PEZA Law was crafted when BPO companies were not yet common, and only industrial companies were locating inside the special zones.
“So, this law applies to industrial companies to make sure that these companies registered under PEZA export their product and not sell it locally,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines said it favors extending the WFH arrangements.
“As Secretary Laguesma said, they study the matter and find some benefits. If they are extending that, we are looking at how they can make good policies regarding this. So, we are in favor of that. I see the practicality of the WFH, as just like in my company, some of my employees are not needed to report to our office,” ECOP vice president George Barcelon said in an interview.
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