Major business groups, companies back return-to-office policy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2022 06:56 PM

MANILA - Several major business groups and companies on Monday backed the government’s move to get employees to return to their workplaces, even as BPOs appealed for an extension of work-from-home setups. 

A statement signed by officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines and the Management Association of the Philippines, said employees returning to their workplaces was “a significant step to the country’s journey to post-pandemic recovery.”

The statement was also signed by officials of major mall operators Ayala Land, SM Prime, Megaworld as well as restaurant group Resto Ph. 

“We look forward to heightened business activity which will benefit the entire nation and spur its return to economic wellness,” the major business groups said. 

They said that at least 1.1 million tourism workers were adversely affected by the pandemic.

In 2020 alone, the business groups said pandemic lockdowns impacted 423,075 construction workers; 464,841 accommodation and food service employees; and 492,067 transportation and storage workers. 

“The path to recovery, we aver, begins with the presence in the business and commercial centers of our country’s workers,” the groups said. 

This was in contrast to the plea by the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines which has called for an extension of work-from-home arrangements for BPO workers, as well as the shift to a hybrid work scheme where workers don’t need to be in the office during the entire workweek.

IBPAP has argued that adopting a hybrid work scheme was needed to maintain the country’s competitiveness in the global BPO industry.

The business groups however argued that a return-to-workplace scheme was better not just for the economy in general but for BPOs too. 

“We note that typhoon Odette last year showed many firms that WFH arrangements are not for all and were meant to be temporary,” the business groups said. 

“Without backup systems in the work place needed for uninterrupted operations, many companies in Cebu and along the path of typhoon Odette reported significant losses due to power and water outages,” they said. 

The Department of Finance has given BPOs until the end of the month to order their employees to report back to their workplaces or else these companies lose their fiscal incentives. 

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