DOLE expands work-from-home arrangement
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday announced the expansion of the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement in a bid to encourage stakeholders to implement telecommuting programs.
Department Order 237, signed by Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Friday but was only furnished to the media Sunday, contained the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Law.
“To optimize the benefits of technology, the State encourages employers and employees to jointly adopt and implement telecommuting programs that are based on voluntariness and mutual consent,” the order said.
The new rules said “the terms and conditions of telecommuting shall not be less than minimum labor standards, and shall not in any way diminish or impair the terms and conditions of employment contained in any applicable company policy or practice, individual contract, or collective bargaining agreement.”
The order also stated that an employer should make sure that telecommuting employees “are given the same treatment as those comparable employees working at the employer’s regular workplace.”
This means that telecommuting workers should have the same right as employees working on site when it comes to rest days, holidays and special non-working days; receive equivalent workload; and similar pay, among others.
The order said that the “work performed in an alternative workplace shall be considered as work performed in the regular workplace of the employer.”
“All time that an employee is required to be on duty, and all time that an employee is permitted or suffered to work in the alternative workplace shall be counted as hours worked,” the order stressed,
The revised IRR defines “alternative workplace” as any location where work, through the use of telecommunication, is performed at a location away from the principal’s place of business of the employer, including but not limited to the employee’s residence, co-working spaces or other spaces that allow for mobile working.
“Regular workplace,” on the other hand, refers to main headquarters or any branch office or physical premises provided by the employer where employees regularly report to work.
The DOLE said the revised rules were the result of almost two months of consultations with concerned sectors, passing the scrutiny and inputs from members of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council — a consultative body presided by the labor secretary and composed of labor and employer representatives.
The order also said the DOLE should be notified of the implementation of telecommuting through an establishment report system.
This comes as Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that business process outsourcing (BPO) firms can keep their tax perks while also continuing offering WFH options for their employees as they transfer their registration from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to the Board of Investments.
Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday also said the agency supports the extension of the WFH arrangements since it could prevent not just the transmission of COVID-19 but other diseases as well.
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