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It’s no secret that the daily commute to and from work in the metro is a battle. It doesn’t matter what mode of transportation you take, may it be bus, jeepney, train, TNVS, or UV Express Service. In one way or another, the hours of traffic and crowded seats will just drain the energy and patience out of you. You endure it anyway, because you have bills to pay, siblings to support, or parents to take care of.

If you’ve been wishing to ditch the stressful commute, well, your prayers have been answered. President Rodrigo Duterte just signed into law a bill that allows employees to work from home.

Here’s what we know so far about the law.

It’s an optional and legal alternative work arrangement. 

The Republic Act 11165 calls this arrangement as telecommuting. As defined in the law, it “allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.” It is optional and depends on the mutual agreement between workers and employers.

It’s for employees of the private sector only. 

While no explanation was offered over why the law is only for private company employees, it’s likely that it’s because public service almost always requires physical presence in government offices. Work in the private sector, on the other hand, seems to be more flexible and doable even without being in the office.

It has two primary objectives. 

The law aims to promote work-life balance as well as address traffic congestion and its effects on the country’s economy. According to Japan International Cooperation Agency, the country is losing P3.5 billion a day due to the worsening situation of roads in the metro.

The benefits remain. 

Working from home does not give employers the right to reduce the benefits their employee receive, the same manner that telecommuters must be treated the same way as those working in the office. However, the arrangement should still follow minimum labor standards on health, safety, schedule, workload, work hours, and social security. Workers should still receive equal pay, leave benefits, and promotion.

The implementing rules and regulations are still on its way. 

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), within 60 days of law enactment, must come up with implementing rules and regulations on the following:

  • 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
  • Collective rights as workers at the employer’s premises, and shall not be barred from communicating with workers’ representatives

This should be accomplished in consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council and relevant stakeholders.

A Telecommuting Pilot Program will be created. 

To be implemented in select industries for a period of not more than three years, the Telecommuting Pilot Program will allow DOLE to “determine the advantages and disadvantages of a telecommuting program in the Philippines.”

What are your thoughts on the ‘work from home’ law?

Featured Image from Madel Crudo

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