AN AMENDMENT permitting alternative work arrangements under a law designed to revive the post-pandemic economy will help attract talent to the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry, an industry official said,

IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Madrid said the amendment to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act allowing IT-BPM employees to work from home will also help in employee retention.

“IT-BPM companies would be able to implement flexible work arrangements, preferred by employees and some employers,” Jack Madrid told BusinessWorld in a Viber message. “This work flexibility also helps with employee attraction and retention.”

The government had denied an industry request to allow flexible work arrangements, citing rules making availment of incentives dependent on the performance of on-site work in economic zones.

CREATE MORE (CREATE to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy) provisions allow IT-BPM companies to enjoy tax incentives at the discretion of investment promotion agencies, which can decide to approve work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. 

“IBPAP has long been advocating for the amendment of Section 309 of CREATE to achieve work flexibility for our employees without affecting fiscal incentives (for companies),” Mr. Madrid said.

“Registered business enterprises in the Information Technology Business Process Outsourcing sector… may be allowed to conduct business under alternative work arrangements which shall not cover more than 50% of the total workforce or total hours,” according to CREATE MORE’s amended Section 309.

Mr. Madrid said “the future of work” is about flexible work arrangements. “It has been well proven that the services being performed by our 1.7M strong workforce can be done in a hybrid work environment.”

He added that the industry’s main challenge “is finding enough skilled talent to meet demand.”

Other measures to ensure talent keeps flowing include “unlocking scholarship funds from TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology)” to address the need for technical talent.

The IBPAP recently signed skilling agreements with Microsoft Corp.

IBPAP is expecting the industry to create an additional 1.1 million jobs by 2028, expanding its total workforce to 2.5 million come that year, Mr. Madrid said, according to the industry’s aggressive growth scenario.

The development of digital and connectivity infrastructure to areas outside of Metro Manila will allow the tapping of “unique talent pools,” he said. “Digital infrastructure and nationwide connectivity in enterprises and residences is critical given that over 50% of future growth will be outside Metro Manila,” he added.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and convener of think-tank InfraWatch PH, said that concerns regarding digital and connectivity infrastructure rest mainly on reliability and affordability.

“In last-mile areas, such as islands and isolated communities, it is the government’s burden to ensure that the quality of digital services can compare with the rest of the nation,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.

John Paolo R. Rivera, president and chief economist at Oikonomia Advisory & Research, Inc., said such infrastructure makes it easier to enhance “delivery of products and services.”

“It is a facilitating factor… stimulating not only demand but also local and foreign investor confidence in the mechanisms that run the economy,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber message. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio