MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that allows private sector employees to "telecommute" or work from home.
Duterte signed on Dec. 20 Republic Act 11165, a copy of which Malacañang released Thursday, Jan. 10.
Republic Act 11165 aims to promote work-life balance and address traffic congestion and its effects on the country's economy, said Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.
The senator, principal author and sponsor of the law, said the work-from-home program is optional and depends on the mutual agreement between workers and employers.
It, however, should still follow minimum labor standards on health, safety, schedule, workload, work hours and social security.
He added that the law has "enough safeguards" for home-based workers such as equal pay, leave benefits and promotion.
"With this recently signed law, we can now have a stable and consistent legal framework that can provide an enabling environment to encourage participation and enforce compliance among enterprises, big or small. This is indeed a fitting New Year's welcome for our dedicated Filipino workers," Villanueva said in a statement.
Under the law, the labor department is tasked to create guidelines on the following:
- Rate of pay, including overtime and night shift differential, and other similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided in applicable laws, and collective bargaining agreements
- Right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days
- Equivalent workload and performance standards as those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises
- Access to training and career development opportunities as those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises, and be subject to the same appraisal policies covering these workers
- Appropriate training on the technical equipment at their disposal, and the characteristics and conditions of telecommuting
- Collective rights as workers at the employer’s premises, and shall not be barred from communicating with workers’ representatives
Villanueva said the law prompts the creation of a telecommuting pilot program in select industries for a period of not more than three years to allow the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to "determine the advantages and disadvantages of a telecommuting program in the Philippines."
He said DOLE will lead the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations.
-- reports from Dharel Placido and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News