IT-BPO workers want WFH arrangements indefinitely

By Ravin Mikhail d. Ochave, Reporter

Information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) firms and other registered enterprises should be allowed to operate the work-to-home (WFH) system indefinitely, according to a group of IT-BPO workers.

The government on Friday said it would allow a hybrid work setup for IT-BPM companies and enterprises registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) until September 12, 2022.

In a statement over the weekend, Alliance of Call Center Workers (ACW) co-convener Emman D. David says the best solution for IT-BPO employees is to arrange a hybrid job that allows employees to choose the method of their choice.

“We would appreciate it if (the government) declares that they will respect the WFH system indefinitely,” Mr David said. “The best and only solution to this problem is a hybrid setup where BPO workers are given the option, guaranteed by Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act, to work from home if they wish.”

On April 8, PEZA announced that it would allow more than 30% of registered IT-BPOs and business enterprises to continue a WFH arrangement until September 12 or until the end of the disaster declared by President Rodrigo R. Duterte due to the epidemic.

“As long as our ecozone locators are working hybrid, they are entitled to enjoy our tax incentives and should be able to comply with a minimum of 70% export sales and at least 70% on-site reports by their employees. PEZA, CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises) and 30% off-home activity under the Telecommuting Act, ”Pereza Deputy Director General Tereso O’Panga said in an April 8 statement.

BPO companies had earlier asked the government to increase the WFH system by 90%, citing health concerns due to the ongoing epidemic and the recent rise in fuel prices, which ended on March 31.

“We have received reports from some members of our group that their employers are interested in requesting a Letter of Authority (LOA) from PEZA for a 30% work-from-home setup but are not sure how to proceed considering the situation,” said Mr David of ACW. .

“While we welcome PEZA’s move to allow 30% of registered BPO companies to operate from home, we are concerned about the confusion that comes with considering the agency’s earlier statements,” he added.

PEZA says any enterprise who wants to continue WFH system after September 12 StaySeparate application with agency.

For comments, PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza Viber said in a message that the company had received more than 400 LOAs as of April 8.

“There is no confusion as far as page-registered enterprises are concerned because we are going back to the regular policy of 70% -30% before the epidemic. We have been issuing WFH LOA since 2017, and as PEZA’s business support we have increased it to 90% by the beginning of the epidemic in 2020, ”said Mrs. Plaza.

Ms Plaza said the ACW’s call for action could be addressed by the next administration, adding that the 70-30 ratio was already clear.Staycient

“There is no time to amend the current policy and law. 70% onsite of PEZA, no more than 30% WFH ratio is good enough. This is the hybrid policy we have been using since 2017. Those business ventures registered with PEZA are exporters and even before the epidemic, in 2017, IT-BPOs were already benefiting from WFH, even less than 30%, ”said Mrs. Plaza.

“PEZA’s hybrid 70-30 ratio for export-oriented IT-BPO. (The) WFH’s potentially high ratio could be provided by a non-PEZA registered IT-BPO registered with the Board of Investment, ”he added.

Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a Viber message that onsite work was needed to boost the country’s recovery from the epidemic.

“More onsite operations are needed to accelerate (our) economic recovery. But we know that there are costsStayA hybrid / WFH set up, so we can allow it to the extent permitted by law, “said Mr Lopez.

Under Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) Resolution 19-21, registered IT-BPO companies were previously allowed to operate a WFH system for 90% of their total employees while enjoying tax incentives till March 31, 2022.

The FIRB rejected PEZA’s request for an extension of the resolution, arguing that the WFH arrangement was a “time-bound measure” and that workers should return.StayCE follows the country’s immunization rate and helps boost economic activity.

As of the end of 2021, PEZA estimates that 1,274 IT locator companies operate in 297 IT centers and ecoparks and employ more than one million people nationwide.

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