In January 2010, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11165, which aims to encourage private companies to adopt “telecommuting” or work from home (WFH) programs.
While several businesses in the Philippines have already implemented telecommuting to some extent, the bill seeks to set standards for all industries in order to protect the rights of both employees and employers.
The Benefits of Work-From-Home Programs
As traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other parts of the country continues to be a major concern, people lose valuable time in commuting to and from workplaces every day. WFH programs are seen to offer a respite from this dilemma, with important benefits that include:
Working from home frees up the significant amount of time that is normally consumed in commuting to and from work. Employees can make better use of this time by spending it with their family, their hobbies, and other personal interests to achieve work-life balance, which then promotes better health.
When workers are healthier and have a better lifestyle, absenteeism and employers’ spending on their employees’ health care are reduced
With more people working from home, the volume of pedestrians and vehicles on the streets may also be reduced, thus helping to ease traffic congestion
Guidelines for WFH programs
Under RA 11165, WFH programs are optional and must be done with mutual agreement between the company’s workers and employers. The minimum legal standards on employees’ health, safety, workload, work hours, social security, and others must be followed for employees who work from home. These employees should be given the same opportunities for promotion, leaves, and other benefits, and enjoy the same pay scale as employees with comparable jobs who work at employers’ premises.
The Department of Labor and Employment has been assigned to draft guidelines on the following areas:
Employers must provide WFH employees with the same monetary benefits as those who work at the office or employer’s premises. These include nightshift differential, overtime, and other benefits provided by the law or agreed upon in Collective Bargaining Agreements
WFH employees must have comparable workloads as those who work at the company’s premises
WFH employees must enjoy the same rest periods, rest days, and holidays as those who work at the company’s premises
WFH employees must receive the same opportunities for training and promotions, and must be appraised under the same standards as those who work at the company’s premises
WFH employees must receive technical training and support on the equipment provided to them to perform their jobs
WFH employees must have the same rights as other employees when at the company’s premises and must not be prevented from communicating with workers’ representatives
The bill seeks to create a three-year pilot program in selected industries to test the effectiveness of telecommuting, and to identify its advantages and disadvantages.