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Duterte signs Telecommuting Act for private sector employees



Private sector employees can work from home or any place outside the office with the help of telecommunication and computer technology based on a new law signed by President Duterte.

Republic Act No. 11165, signed by the President last Dec. 20, institutionalizes telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector.

“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to affirm labor as a primary social economic force. To this end, it shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare, especially in the light of technological development that has opened up new and alternative avenues for employees to carry out their work such as telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements,” the law said.

Under the law known as the Telecommuting Act, employers may offer a telecommuting program to workers on a voluntary basis and must give fair treatment to these employees.  The telecommuting program must observe labor laws and include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.

RA 11165 stated the employers must ensure the telecommuting workers are given the same treatment as those working in the office.

They must receive a rate of pay, including overtime and night shift differential, and other benefits now lower that those provided in applicable laws and collective bargaining agreements; right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days; have the same workload and performance standards as those of comparable workers at the office; have access to training and career development opportunities; receive training on the technical equipment at their disposal, and the characteristics and conditions of telecommuting; and have collective rights as the workers at the employer’s premises, and shall not be barred from communicating with workers’ representatives.

The employer shall also be responsible for taking measures to ensure the protection of data used and processed by the telecommuting employee, according to the law.

The Department of Labor and Employment has been directed to establish a “telecommuting pilot program” in select industries for a period of not more than three years. At the end of the program, the Labor department will submit a report to Congress about its findings.

The Secretary of Labor must also consult with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council and stakeholders on the rules and regulations to implement the telecommuting law.

The law takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper. (Genalyn Kabiling)