Resumption of office work pushed by property groups

·Contributor
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Construction of new buildings alongside older establishments is seen within the business district in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines January 25, 2017. Business and landlords are calling for the end of the work from home (WFH) scheme to get employees to return for office work. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
FILE PHOTO: Construction of new buildings alongside older establishments is seen within the business district in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines January 25, 2017. Business and landlords are calling for the end of the work from home (WFH) scheme to get employees to return for office work. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Some of the Philippines’ biggest groups and property companies are asking industries to resume office work, backing the government’s highly-criticized directive to end work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, amid calls from workers for more flexibility.

In a statement released Monday (March 21), the business groups said that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) were among those most affected by the WFH set up in the past two years. MSMEs retained just a fraction of the 5.38 million jobs nationwide across all segments in 2020, it added.

“We now look forward to heightened business activity which will benefit the entire nation and spur its return to economic wellness. The path to recovery, we aver, begins with the presence in the business and commercial centers of our country’s workers,” according to the statement.

Signatories to the joint statement include executives of Ayala Land Inc., Megaworld Corp., Robinsons Land Corp. and SM Prime Holdings Inc.

The business groups and executives also highlighted that all establishments can already operate on-site at 100% capacity in areas covered by Alert Level 1.

“We are pleased and relieved that with the vaccination rate in Metro Manila now at 70.4% and nationwide at 57.1% and with new COVID-19 cases at a very low 598 cases nationwide as of March 17, we now enjoy our current Alert Level 1. This allows free interzonal and intrazonal travel regardless of age and comorbidities,” they said.

Meanwhile, outsourcing companies are told to require their workforce to return to office by April 1 or risk losing their tax breaks.

One of the sectors that will be largely affected by the push for on-site work is registered information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) companies.

Workers under the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) prefer a hybrid set up. The government, however, denied their request to extend remote-work arrangements, as lower COVID-19 infections lead to less mobility restrictions.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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