By Charmaine A. Tadalan
THE House of Representatives, voting 239-0, on Monday passed on third and final reading the bill promoting telecommuting as an option for employees in the private sector.
House Bill 7402, the proposed Telecommuting Act, defines telecommuting as a flexible work arrangement, allowing employees to stay in an alternative place and work through telecommunication and/or computer technologies.
The bill, principally authored by Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte, allows an employer to offer telecommuting alternatives voluntarily, given a mutual agreement with their employees.
Employers, however, must ensure that terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards, including compensable work hours, overtime, rest days and other benefits. In particular, telecommuting employees should receive a rate of pay, rights to rest periods, volume of workload, and performance standards, among others, similar to that of employees required to report to the office.
Further, measures of the bill require employers to protect personal data of telecommuting employees and guarantee its confidentiality at all times.
If passed, a telecommuting program in select industries will be established by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) for a period of not more than three years, from which the agency shall base a report it will submit to Congress.
Also among its authors are Reps. Alfred Vargas III, Sherwin Tugna, John Marvin Nieto, Edward Vera Perez Maceda, Dale Malapitan, Eric Martinez, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Manuel Monsour Del Rosario III, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Gus Tambunting, Randolph Ting, Kaka Bag-ao, Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Tomasito Villarin and Lorna Silverio, among others.