PEZA warns of 'underground BPOs' competing for workers with registered firms

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2022 07:07 PM | Updated as of May 17 2022 12:18 PM

MANILA - The head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority on Monday warned that “underground BPOs” are luring employees from registered BPOs, as the agency again called for allowing hybrid work setups. 
 
PEZA Director General Charito Plaza told the House tax-writing panel that these unregistered IT-BPO companies are also offering higher pay to employees sans security of tenure as a way to evade the government.
 
“Nangyayari na po ngayon nakikipag-agawan ang mga underground IT-BPO sa employment. They are offering P30,000 to P40,000 for the IT workers, your honor,” Plaza told members of the House Ways and Means Committee, as she again called for work from home setups to be allowed. 
 
“So mas lalo tayong nalulugi doon kung hindi natin i-allow yung hybrid at lalong madagdagan yung mga underground na mga IT-BPO who are not registered. So it’s a loss to the government,” Plaza said.
 
PEZA has been batting for BPOs to be allowed hybrid work setups, where employees don’t need to be in the office for the entire workweek. The Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), an attached agency of the Department of Finance, however has stood pat on its order for BPOs to resume onsite operations or lose their tax incentives. 
 
Plaza meanwhile said that instead of running after “underground BPOs” the Bureau of Internal Revenue has conducting onsite inspections of IT-BPO firms to see if they are operating 100 percent onsite.
 
IT-BPO firms have said that keeping WFH or hybrid setups is needed to retain employees who prefer remote work. 
 
The DOF meanwhile said that the Tax Code itself will need to be changed to allow BPOs to keep hybrid work setups while still retaining their tax perks. 
 
”We are not disallowing work from home - the CREATE [Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Law] has nothing to do with work from home, any work arrangement. But if you are registered in an economic zone, Section 309 said that the activity must be rendered inside the zone. That’s our basis,” said Finance Asec. Juvy Danofrata.
 
Some BPOs have reportedly already chosen to give up their tax perks to keep their WFH setup. 

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