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Makabayan bloc seeks inquiry on WFH-related issues amid pandemic

/ 06:37 PM June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is seeking an inquiry on issues related to work-from-home (WFH) arrangements implemented by businesses in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

House Resolution No. 997 directs the House committee on labor and employment to conduct the inquiry on the matter.

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In filing the resolution, the lawmakers focused on companies in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry which were among the sectors that implemented work-from-home arrangement as “call centers are typically densely occupied and viral transmission is very likely.”

“The Information Technology Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry, which is considered as an economic growth driver employing about 1.3 million Filipinos, is among the biggest industries whose conduct of business is shifting towards work from home as call centers proved to hotspots for COVID-19 spread as experienced in other countries like in South Korea and Senegal,”  the lawmakers said.

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“Internet service in the Philippines has been considered as the slowest in the Asia Pacific (2017) and is currently considered as a huge factor for business continuity especially in industries like IT-BPM whose work is mostly being shifted towards WFH arrangement,” they added.

Due “unreliable internet connection and unstable electricity supplies” in the country, WFH arrangements do not figure in the long-term plans of some of the BPO firms here, the lawmakers said.

Citing the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN), the lawmakers said issues faced by WFH employees include lack of logistical assistance such as the delivery of equipment, longer working hours for workers to compensate for “low productivity,” unpaid wages due to poor internet connections, unjust sanctions to employees due to technical problems, and passing on of internet and utility expenses by companies to workers.

Likewise, a survey conducted by BIEN also showed that 77 percent of WFH employees had to shoulder internet costs and 54 percent said that they receive no internet allowance from their companies, among others.

Twenty percent of WFH employees also did not receive computers or laptops from their companies, the lawmakers said still citing BIEN.

“Decent work standards, protection of labor rights and sustainability of jobs need to be at the heart of our country’s resiliency program to combat the pandemic and its economic consequences,” the lawmakers said.

“The flexibility that WFH enables can be optimized for the benefit of the economy and business without compromising the rights and welfare of employees,” they added.

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The resolution was signed by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, BPO, Business, Internet
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