House OKs telecommuting act on final reading
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill which seeks to give private sector employees the option to work outside the office through telecommuting.
Voting 239 without negative votes and abstentions, the lower chamber has approved on final reading House Bill 7402 or the “Telecommuting Act.”
The bill aims to “promote a flexible work arrangement for private sector workers to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and computer technologies.”
Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, principal author of the bill, said institutionalizing new and alternative modes of working, made possible through the use of modern technology, is very timely in light of the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila and the increasingly unpredictable weather.
“More and more employers have expanded the traditional mode of on-site work to the adoption of flexible working arrangements such as the compressed workweek and telecommuting, among others,” Villafuerte said in an earlier statement.
The bill provides that an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon.
Under HB 7402, the said terms and conditions should not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law, and should include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.
If passed into law, telecommuting employees are also entitled to a 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.
They would also have the right to rest periods by regulating the operation of their internet servers after normal working hours as well as during weekends, regular holidays and special non-working days.
Moreover, the employees would have the same or equivalent workload and performance standards as those comparable workers at the employer’s premises.
The bill also provides for the establishment of a telecommuting pilot program in select industries by the Department of Labor and Employment for program evaluation, as well as the following key provisions:
- Allows business establishments to adopt a telecommuting work policy that is beneficial to both employee and employer;
- Mandates that the employer is responsible for taking necessary measures to protect the data used and processed by the telecommuting employee; and
- Provides guidelines to be observed in case of differences in the interpretation of the telecommuting work arrangement. /je
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