Senate ratifies bicam report on proposed ‘work-from-home’ law

THE Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on a proposed law allowing employees in the private sector to “telecommute” or work from home.

Telecommuting is a work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technology.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Committee on Labor, hailed the ratification of the proposed work-from-home bill but stressed that under the measure telecommuting would “remain as employers’ prerogative based on a mutual agreement.”

The senator said that while a telecommuting program “is voluntary or optional, it 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.”

“That’s why we are pushing for the approval of this measure so that we can have a stable and consistent legal framework that can provide an enabling environment to encourage participation and enforce compliance among enterprises, big or small,” he said.

Once enacted into law, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is expected to come up with guidelines that would 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 (CBAs).

DoLE must also indicate the employees’ right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days, as well as equivalent workload and performance standards as those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises.

The bicam report also 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, Villanueva said.

“We congratulate all our co-authors in both Houses for their unceasing support to this measure which will give our workers a meaningful work-life balance,” he added. BERNADETTE TAMAYO


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