Telecommuting: The future of work?

LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello III with Daily Tribune editors Chito Lozada and Elmer Manuel. / SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE

In 2019 the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act 11165, otherwise known as the Telecommuting Act, which recognizes telecommuting as a possible work arrangement between employer and employee.

According to the law, employers may offer a voluntary telecommuting program to employees who wish to work in an alternative workspace, like their homes, with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

In an interview on Daily Tribune’s Straight Talk hosted by editors Chito Lozada and Elmer Manuel, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said telecommuting helped strengthen the relationship of the

employer-employee amid the pandemic.

TELECOMMUTING helped strengthen the employee-employer relationship amid the pandemic./ PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/JACKY CHIU AND FB/SILVESTRE BELLO III

“Work from home, like telecommuting and its working hours, that’s what the employers adopted instead of losing their shop and terminating their employees. It is one of the wonderful things that I saw.”

Bello pointed out that telecommuting helped strengthen the relationship between employers and employee.

Approximately 6,000 companies have seriously been affected by the pandemic, Bello said. Some 4,000 of these companies closed temporarily.

“Those who were laid off because the company closed are entitled to separation pay and other benefits. Aside from that, we have a program called CAP or the Covid-19 Adjustment Nation Pro-Act.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

Under this, we give employees whose services were terminated a one-time cash assistance of P5,000.”

While telecommuting is now enforced, some employees are still asked to report physically for work. Under the Telecommuting Act’s Fair Treatment principle, telecommuting employees and those who are on-site should be given the same labor benefits.

Bello said, “To avoid

office-setting infections, always follow health protocols. Always wear a face shield and mask. Mayroon dapat (There should be) temperature check and alcohol. Observe social distancing.”

He also discussed the flexible work schedule that some employers are currently following.

“We need that. What’s important is strict compliance. There are others, for safer environment, who do this. May mga iba na one day or one week wala sila. The following week meron ulit. Lahat ng klaseng flexible working arrangement ina-adopt nila. Madali ang pag-comply sa health protocols especially on social distancing (Some do it on a per day or per week basis. All kinds of flexible working arrangements are being adopted. It makes it easier to comply with the health protocols especially in social distancing),” Bello said.

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