MANILA - One of the Philippines' main investment promotion agencies said on Tuesday that business process outsourcing workers should be allowed to keep work-from-home setups until the end of September.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority also said it supports a "hybrid" work setup as it asked the Foreign Investment Review Board to reconsider its order for BPO workers to return to the offices by April.
PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said the agency has approved the extension of work-from-home setups until the end of September. The agency also backs a work scheme where employees are not required to be in the office during the entire workweek, she said.
"We’re supporting the hybrid work scheme request of the ITBPO," Plaza said.
Industry leaders in the IT-BPM sector have appealed for an extension of the WFH set up beyond March, and the implementation of hybrid work schemes, saying this will allow the industry to remain competitive.
A major BPO also said that hybrid work will allow the company to better retain its talents or employees, who may not want to an exclusively office-based work environment.
Another reason for allowing WFH setups is the rising cost of transportation amid high fuel prices due to the Ukraine war, Plaza added.
A BPO workers group has also opposed the return to the office order, citing the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the current state of public transportation in Metro Manila which they said could affect productivity.
The FIRB meanwhile has said that workers' return to offices would spur economic activities in ecozones. It earlier upheld a resolution that only allows WFH arrangements not exceeding 90 percent of the total workforce for registered Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) enterprises until the end March.
Non-compliance could affect the incentives given to BPO companies.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua also sided with the FIRB's decision to deny the extension.
"Part of returning to the new normal is really to continue our pursuit of working where activities should be. The rest of the economy has already shifted to working in the office," Chua said on Tuesday.
The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) meanwhile has said that the Philippines should enact a more permanent hybrid work setup policy to keep the country's competitiveness.
-- with a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News