President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Telecommuting Act into law which institutionalizes work-from-home arrangements for employees in the private sector.
Also known as Republic Act 11165, the law was signed by Duterte on December 20, 2018 but was only released to the public on January 10, 2019.
The Telecommuting Act of 2019 mandates private sector companies to offer their employees the work-from-home arrangement while also being entitled to equal employee benefits.
The law basically recognizes telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement where employees can work remotely with the use of telecommunication and other computer technologies.
As the law dictates, employers in the private sector are not necessarily required to offer their employees the telecommuting program. Rather, it stresses the said arrangement should be offered to those employees “on a voluntary basis.” This also means that the arrangement should abide by minimum labor standards.
The law further expounds that employers are required to guarantee fair treatment of their telecommuting employees like every working employee from the traditional workplace–work hours should be compensable and with a minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and leaves.
This also means that workers who are offered the remote working arrangement should also be entitled to overtime pay, night shift differential, rest days, regular holidays, special non-working holidays, a fair amount of workload and standards, training access, and opportunities for career growth and development.
As the law eyes the workforce’s convenience after the passage of Republic Act 11165, private sector employers should have a more keen eye in proving telecommuting employees “with relevant written information in order to adequately surprise the individual of the terms and conditions of the telecommuting program and the responsibilities of the employee.”
While this poses a convenient working option for private sector employees who endure traveling two to four hours to work due to daily problems such as traffic, this may also require private sector companies to provide their telecommuting employees with proper ICT tools to work in alternative workplaces.
Furthermore, telecommunication companies should also play a role in promoting ICT solutions after the passage of the Telecommuting Act.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology called on every telecommunication company “to gear up for the possible increase of demand for faster and reliable internet connection,” according to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio.
Institutionalizing the work-from-home arrangements also calls for telecommunication companies to step up their game in providing workers a reliable communications service and internet connection.