Bill mandating employers to offer work from home set up filed in Senate

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to make work from home arrangement a mandatory option offered to employees has been filed in the Senate.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1448, Senator Imee Marcos noted that alternative working arrangements are becoming a new normal in offices due to the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Marcos said her bill proposes to introduce amendments to the Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act to make working from home a mandatory option for employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not necessary for the completion of his or her job, and who have been in the company for at least a year.

“Should the physical presence of the employee be necessary for a particular task, the employer may require his/her attendance in the workplace, within office hours and during weekdays, but not more than twice a week,” Marcos said in her proposal.

Telecommuting is defined in the present law as a work arrangement that allows a worker to perform his or her tasks from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

“Various sectors, including the labor sector, have to make major modifications in their policy to ensure compliance with social distancing measures,” Marcos said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“This bill, this seeks to strengthen the Telecommuting Law by making it mandatory, and not merely optional, for employers to offer telecommuting as an alternative to employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not absolutely essential to the performance of their functions,” she added.

The measure also states that a contract of employment should clearly indicate the eligibility of a given position for telecommuting.

“Clearly, a ‘new normal’ of social distancing, new hygiene standards and limited physical contact shall prevail into the future,” Marcos said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Telecommuting Act on December 20, 2018, after Senator Joel Villanueva pushed for its passage in the previous Congress.

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