REUTERS

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said it adjusted the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Telecommuting Law (Republic Act 11165) to account for the broader adoption of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements during and after the pandemic.

In a statement on Sunday, the department said Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma signed the revised IRR on Sept. 16, strengthening the protections for WFH workers against the diminution of their entitlements should they opt not to work in the office.

“The terms and conditions of telecommuting shall not be less than minimum labor standards, and shall not in any way diminish or impair the terms and conditions of employment contained in any applicable company policy or practice, individual contract, or collective bargaining agreement,” according to a copy of the revised guidelines sent to reporters.

“All time that an employee is required to be on duty, and all time that an employee is permitted or suffered to work in the alternative workplace shall be counted as hours worked,” it added.

The revised rules also require employees in a WFH scheme not be classified as field personnel, except when their actual hours of work “cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.”

The DoLE said it conducted nearly two months of consultations with labor groups and employer representatives before amending the IRR.

Mr. Laguesma called on companies relying on telecommuting to ensure mutual consent on the part of employers and employees.

“These revised rules clarify and adequately address issues and concerns of the telecommuting sector,” he added.

On Dec. 20, 2018, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Telecommuting Law, which forms the legal basis for all WFH arrangements.

The law defined telecommuting as “a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.”

Last week, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said business process outsourcing firms can continue with WFH arrangements while receiving fiscal incentives if their registration is transferred to the Board of Investments (BoI).

He said that about 2,000 Information Technology and Business Processing Management (IT-BPM) firms registered with PEZA may transfer to the BoI.

Under the CREATE law, registered business enterprises, including IT-BPM firms, must conduct their businesses within economic zones in order to avail of fiscal incentives. — John Victor D. Ordoñez