By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
Apart from promoting work-life balance, the Bill allowing employees in the private sector to telecommute or work-from-home, which was recently signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte would address traffic congestion and its tremendous effect on the country’s economy, said Sen. Joel Villanueva.
Villanueva welcomed the signing into law of his bill — RA 11165 or An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector encourages employers to adopt telecommuting — a work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.
While the adoption of the work-from-home scheme will remain as employers’ prerogative based on a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, Villanueva stressed that the telecommuting program should not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law including that for health and safety of workers, schedule and workloads, work hours and social security.
“We thank the President for supporting our bill that will promote our workers’ right to work-life balance and flexible work arrangement,” Villanueva, principal author and sponsor of the law, said.
The Senator, who is also the chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, added that the law in itself has enough safeguards to ensure that the rights of home-based workers are protected by giving them equal pay, leave benefits and promotion as their counterparts in the office.
Under the law, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is expected to come up with guidelines that will ensure the “fair treatment” provision of the measure such as the:
· Rate of pay, including overtime and night shift differential, and other similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided in applicable laws, and collective bargaining agreements;
· Right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days;
· Equivalent workload and performance standards as those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises;
· Access to training and career development opportunities as those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises, and be subject to the same appraisal policies covering these workers;
· Appropriate training on the technical equipment at their disposal, and the characteristics and conditions of telecommuting; and
· Collective rights as the workers at the employer’s premises and shall not be barred from communicating with workers’ representatives.
The Telecommuting law further provides for the establishment of a telecommuting pilot program in select industries for a period of not more than three years to enable DOLE to determine the advantages and disadvantages of a telecommuting program in the Philippines.
“We greatly extend our gratitude to our counterpart in the House and our fellow colleagues who supported our well-meaning advocacy to produce a cohesive and strong policy that gives our workers meaningful work-life balance and an option to work under a flexible work arrangement,” Villanueva said.
“With this recently signed law, we can now have a stable and consistent legal framework that can provide an enabling environment to encourage participation and enforce compliance among enterprises, big or small.
This is indeed a fitting New Year’s welcome for our dedicated Filipino workers” the Senator added.