‘Telecommuting’ bill hurdles House

MANILA The House of Representatives on Monday unanimously approved on third reading a measure providing employees in the private sector the option to work outside the office through telecommuting.

Voting 239-0, lawmakers of the Lower House approved House Bill 7402 or the proposed Telecommuting Act.

The bill 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.

Under the bill, an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon.

The said terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law, and shall include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.

Telecommuting employees shall receive a rate of pay, including overtime and night shift differential, and other similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided in applicable laws, and collective bargaining agreements.

They shall also have the right to rest periods by regulating the operation of their internet servers after normal working hours as well as during weekends, regular holidays and special non-working days.

The employees shall also have the same or equivalent workload and performance standards as those comparable workers at the employer's premises.

They shall have the same access to training and career development opportunities as those of workers at the employer's premises, and be subject to the same appraisal policies covering these workers.

They shall have the same collective rights as the workers at the employer's premises, and shall not be barred from communicating with workers' representatives.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall be mandated to establish and maintain a telecommuting pilot program in select industries which shall last for a period of not more than three years.

The said agency shall also be responsible for baselining, scoping and profiling research work prior to implementation, regular quarterly monitoring, and evaluation. At the end of the program, the DOLE shall submit a report to Congress on its findings. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency