BPO night-pay bill may trigger demands from other workers

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A BILL granting additional pay to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees on the night shift might encourage workers in other industries to demand similar benefits, a wage regulator said.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment on Wednesday held initial deliberations on House Bill (HB) 2225 written by Rep. Zajid G. Mangudadatu, which seeks to give BPO employees a night differential of 25% of basic pay.

“We support the legislative intent, taking into consideration the hazards, risks and stress associated with night work; however… what we are concerned about is the impact of additional night shift pay for other workers in other industries,” National Wages and Productivity Commission Executive Director Patricia P. Hornilla told the panel.

Committee Chair Randolph S. Ting of the third district of Cagayan said the panel will have to consult lawyers, as well as other stakeholders about the bill.

“We need to check on its constitutionality because of the requirement of equal protection under the law… why is it only for BPOs?” Mr. Ting told BusinessWorld in an interview.

HB 2225 seeks to compensate night-shift BPO employees for taking on added risks to their safety and health.

The measure also hopes to include employees of BPO companies operating in Information Technology Centers as well as in locations accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

IT & Business Process Association Philippines, Inc (IBPAP) Executive Director for Industry and External Affairs Nicki S. Agcaoili said BPO firms currently provide night employees additional pay.

“Current practice is we pay 10% (more) per hour, if their shift falls between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Mr. Agcaoili said.

He added the BPO industry is still drafting its position but has taken into account the proposed measure’s possible impact on the industry and its competitiveness against other countries.

“We have to factor in the competition, like India and China. Currently only the Philippines offers a night differential,” Mr. Agcaoili told the panel. — Charmaine A. Tadalan