By Jenina P. Ibañez

AN outsourcing business group has advised companies to implement flexible work arrangements amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) disease outbreak.

In a statement on Saturday, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said that it was working with government and health agencies to help prevent further transmission of the disease and ensure the safety of the outsourcing workforce.

“Please evaluate applicable variations of flexible work arrangements such as compressed workweek, staggered start of shifts, and skeletal on-site workforce,” IBPAP President and Chief Executive Officer Rey C. Untal said, citing the labor advisory released by the Department of Labor and Employment on March 4.

He said that this would minimize stress on public transportation during rush periods.

Metro Manila has been placed on a month-long community quarantine that limits the movement of people. Workers may enter and exit Metro Manila by showing their company ID at checkpoints.

There are over 900,000 business process outsourcing employees working in Metro Manila.

Mr. Untal said that employees that work in economic zones may work from home, bringing home work laptops to avoid unnecessary travel.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) on March 5 released a memorandum circular allowing information technology enterprises in economic zones to develop work-from-home arrangements or reassign employees to other facilities without prior approval from PEZA.

IBPAP is also encouraging member companies to provide alternative transportation for employees.

“There will be a huge challenge to implement social distancing within our mass transport systems and as such, member companies will be assessing the feasibility of providing their employees with alternatives to public transportation to and from work like shuttle services with dedicated pick-up points so as to lessen the risk of exposure.”

Mr. Untal said that IBPAP encourages its member companies to implement these measures to protect employees, clients, and other stakeholders for the duration of the community quarantine.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday ordered a community quarantine halting land, domestic air, and sea travels to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14.