IT-BPO workers welcome WFH extension amid transport woes, pandemic

·Contributor
·2 min read
Call center agents wait for calls from their United States clients as they work overnight daily in Manila's Makati financial district February 6, 2012. The IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. (IBPAP) said that the industry were relieved with the Department of Finance's (DOF) announcement that the work from home (WFH) arrangement with the IT-BPO sector has been extended till further notice. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)
Call center agents wait for calls from their United States clients as they work overnight daily in Manila's Makati financial district February 6, 2012. The IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. (IBPAP) said that the industry were relieved with the Department of Finance's (DOF) announcement that the work from home (WFH) arrangement with the IT-BPO sector has been extended till further notice. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)

Workers of the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) firms have welcomed the extension of the work from home (WFH) arrangement, which was set to expire on Monday (Sept 12).

In an interview on Sunday, Jack Madrid, president of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. (IBPAP) said that the industry, as well as the investors and employees, were relieved after the Department of Finance (DOF) announced the news.

“We are relieved and we are also looking forward to a more permanent and much needed solution,” Madrid said.

“We experienced extremely high productivity levels without any dip in customer satisfaction ratings from our global customers through the pandemic,” he added.

The organization has earlier said that the industry’s revenue grew in 2021 by 10.6%, reaching $29.49 billion in revenues amid the pandemic.

On Friday, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who also chairs the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) said that BPO firms will still need to retain the 70% onsite-30% WFH arrangement until FIRB finalizes its decision on the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (PEZA) request to extend the WFH setup.

The issue will be discussed in the next FIRB meeting on Thursday as per Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko.

“Given the long-standing issue on the WFH extension for the IT-BPM sector, we hope the decision of the Board will finally bring clarity to the matter,” Dionko said.

Earlier, PEZA officer-in-charge and Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning Tereso Panga warned that the IT-BPO industry might suffer substantial losses, including the loss of highly skilled employees, if the government decides to end the WFH policy.

“Based on our [registered business entities], it is actually their workers that demand an alternative work arrangement,” Panga said.

He added that workers might look for jobs with WFH arrangements given the rise of unregulated operations of underground, offshore-based IT companies.

Additionally, workers who have returned on-site have been experiencing transport woes, COVID-19 and monkeypox fears, and high cost of living especially in the country’s capital region, which can further drive workers to look for other more flexible jobs.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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