Work-from-home bill pushed

February 08, 2020

A House leader  said now is the right time for employers to try out telecommuting among their workers as one way for them to help the government contain the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) which has killed over 600 people and infected nearly 31,000 others in China and 27 other countries.

“This is probably the time for our companies to give RA No. 11165 (Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act), a chance by pilot-testing or trying out this alternative job arrangement of allowing their employees, if possible, to work in their homes instead of reporting to their respective offices until this new viral outbreak subsides,” said Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte,  principal author of RA No. 11165 in the House of Representatives.

“We now have this opportunity for employers to support RA 11165 while
at the same time help the national government fight the global outbreak of nCoV by letting their workers, if possible, to work in the safety of their homes until this global emergency situation subsides, with the use of their computers and other telecommunication technologies,” said Villafuerte.

He said the adoption of the flexible work-at-home arrangement during this coronavirus season will likewise help “ease and decongest the traffic situation in Greater Manila and reduce the stress of both citizens and the government.”

Telecommuting allows employees in the private sector to work at home with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies, instead of them having to go to their respective offices on a daily basis.

The law states that “an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they mutually agree upon provided that such terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by the law, and shall include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.”

Among Villafuerte’s proposals included in RA No. 11165 were the “fair treatment” provisions, which ensures that telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as that of employees working at the office in terms of rate of pay, right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days, same or equivalent workload, same access to training and career development opportunities, appropriate training on the technical equipment, and collective rights as the workers at the employer’s premises.