THE GOVERNMENT needs to support employees returning to perform onsite work in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry, also known as the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, an Akbayan Party-List candidate said.
The party-list’s second nominee, Raymond John S. Naguit, said in a statement on Thursday that IT-BPM workers required to return to the office need subsidized commutes and free coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing, after the industry was recently denied permission to continue doing the bulk of its work remotely.
Akbayan supports the industry’s position on continuing with work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for employees until September, saying that the government needs the time to prepare the work environment to make it safer, and also to shield workers from high fuel prices.
“If BPO workers are required to go back to onsite work, they should be given stronger benefits and subsidies. The government must ensure that COVID-19 testing for all BPO workers is free and that adequate public transportation be made available, coupled with a sufficient commuter subsidy for workers returning to onsite duty,” Mr. Naguit said.
Incentives granted to economic zone locators, including IT-BPM companies, are tied to working within the economic zones because they are classified as separate customs territories under the law. Economic managers have argued that ecozone locators’ continued enjoyment of tax privileges despite WFH arrangements puts non-locators at a disadvantage.
During the pandemic, the industry was granted a WFH exemption in the interest of safety. The authorization to work from home expires on March 31.
Mr. Naguit also called on the industry to subsidize the personal electricity and internet bills of remote workers.
“Under Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act, employees have the right to reimbursement (of) any expenses incurred while WFH,” Mr. Naguit said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave