THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is pushing for the immediate approval of legislation allowing more flexible work arrangements to take advantage of improving technology.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in a statement on Thursday, “The DoLE is pushing for its immediate passage to ensure that notwithstanding the location of work, workers’ rights and welfare are protected, especially at the speed with which technological developments are taking shape.”
DoLE said that House Bill 7402 (the Telecommuting Act) and Senate Bill 1363 (the Telecommuting Act of 2017) both aim to “enhanc(e) the protection and promotion of (the rights and welfare of) workers engaged in telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements.”
The Telecommuting Act of 2017 defines “telecommuting” as “the partial or total substitution of computers or telecommunication technologies, or both, for the commute to work by employees.”
Similarly, the Telecommuting Act defines “Telecommuting” as a “flexible 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.”
Employers from the private sector shall be allowed to offer telecommuting work arrangements to their employees as long as it is based on terms and conditions both parties agree on. The telecommuting program shall observe labor standards for compensation, benefits, and leave.
The measures hope to give telecommuting employees equal treatment with employees performing work at the employer’s premises.
The Telecommuting Act of 2017 was approved on third reading by the Senate while Telecommuting Act was also approved on second reading at the House of Representatives.
In both versions of the bill, DoLE is tasked with producing a “Telecommuting Pilot Program” which will be implemented in selected industries and run for not more than three years. DoLE’s role will be to perform “baselining, scoping and profiling research work prior to implementation, regular quarterly monitoring and evaluation.” DoLE is required to submit a report to Congress after the pilot program ends. — Gillian M. Cortez