DOLE backs wider adoption of remote work schemes

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THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, called on employers and workers to mutually adopt telecommuting programs to help sustain the country’s economic recovery, as it has expanded the work-from-home scheme.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma signed Department Order 237, which contains the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the telecommuting law, or Republic Act 11165.

The revised rules were the result of almost two months of consultations with concerned sectors. It also passed scrutiny and had inputs from members of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council -- a consultative body presided by the labor secretary and composed of labor and employer representatives.

“These revised rules clarify and adequately address issues and concerns of the telecomuting sector,” Laguesma said.

Emphasizing the voluntary nature of the alternative work arrangement, the labor chief echoed the call for employers and employees to “jointly adopt and implement telecommuting programs that are based on voluntariness and mutual consent.”

“This aims to sustain our efforts for economic recovery,” he said.

The new rules stress that “the terms and conditions of telecommuting shall not be less than minimum labor standards and shall not in any way diminish or impair the terms and conditions of employment contained in any applicable company policy or practice, individual contract, or collective bargaining agreement.”

As a government measure to optimize the use of technology, the revised IRR also defines “alternative workplace” as any location where work, through the use of telecommunication and/or technology, is performed at a location away from the principal’s place of business of the employer, including but not limited to the employee’s residence, co-working spaces or other spaces that allow for mobile working.

It states that a “regular workplace” means the principal place of business or any branch office or physical premises established or provided by the employer where employees regularly report to or perform work.

It said work performed in an alternative workplace shall be considered as work performed in the regular workplace of the employer.

Under the revised rules, telecommuting employees are not considered field personnel except when their actual hours of work cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.

“All time that an employee is required to be on duty and all time that an employee is permitted or suffered to work in the alternative workplace shall be counted as hours worked,” it said.