Malacañang on Friday expressed optimism that the new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte to institutionalize telecommuting as an alternative work scheme will also contribute in easing the traffic conditions in Metro Manila and other urban areas across the country.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act was signed “to adapt to the different work environments of the changing times.”
“We laud our lawmakers for the timely passage of RA No. 11165 since telecommuting as a work arrangement is fast becoming the new norm, with the Filipino labor market starting to open up with alternative avenues in view of computer technologies,” Panelo said in a statement.
“With its full implementation, we are optimistic that this arrangement can also contribute in easing the traffic conditions in Metro Manila and in other urban areas,” he added.
The spokesman noted the new law “will give fair treatment to telecommuting employees in the private sector” as they can now work from home or any place outside the employers’ premises.
“They will still be given the same treatment and entitlements as those employees physically working at the offices,” Panelo, also the Presidential Legal Counsel, explained.
“We are confident that the Department of Labor and Employment will perform thoroughly as it leads the government put into action the directives of the law,” he added.
According to him, the signing of the “landmark piece of legislation” is a recognition of an emerging and innovative Filipino workforce.
Under RA 11165, employees from the private sector can now have new and alternative avenues in carrying out their tasks through telecommuting and other flexible arrangements.
This will allow employees to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and computer technologies.
However, the law stresses that an employer in the private sector can only offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis.
Telecommuting will be allowed on the grounds that such terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law, including compensable work hours, a minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.
The employer shall also ensure that telecommuting employees are given fair treatment as that of comparable employees working at the employer’s premises.
Meanwhile, telecommuting employees shall receive a similar rate of pay, shift differentials, monetary benefits, rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days.
They shall also have the same workload performance standards, access to training and career development opportunities, and collective rights as those of comparable employees working at the company’s premises.
To ensure its proper implementation, the Department of Labor and Employment shall establish and maintain a telecommuting pilot program in select industries that would last for a period of not more than three years.
“The said agency shall be responsible for baselining, scoping, and profiling research work prior to implementation, regular quarterly monitoring, and evaluation,” the law stated, tasking DOLE to submit a report to Congress on its findings.
Within 60 days from the effectivity of the law, the DOLE, in consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, shall issue the appropriate implementing rules and regulations.
The act will take effect 15 days after its publication in the government’s official gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation.
The RA 11165 was a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1363 and House Bill No. 7402, which was passed by the Congress in October 2018. The President then approved the act last December.