What is the Telecommuting Act in the Philippines? Learn more about the law’s meaning and implementing rules and regulations here.
What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting is a work arrangement that allows an employee to do work from home. Furthermore, it allows them to work in a location separate from the office or employer’s premises. Some also refer to it as teleworking. The term comes from the performance and completion of the employee’s work, which is through telecommunication. In the present context, it involves the internet and various technologies now available at their disposal.
What is the Telecommuting Act?
The Telecommuting Act is covered by the Republic Act No. 11165 or the “Work From Home” Law, authored by Senator Joel Villanueva. R.A. 11165 legally institutionalizes telecommunicating as an alternative work arrangement for private employees.
The telecommuting act defines telecommuting as “work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies” where a telecommuting employee conducts their work in locations other than the business office or employer’s premises. It has several provisions that were put into effect after its signing.
Provisions of the Telecommuting Act
The provisions of the telecommuting act emphasize fair treatment for employees who choose to work from home. The telecommuting agreement is a voluntary pact between the employee and the employer. Employers who deem telecommuting as ill-fitting for their businesses are not required to implement it.
To ensure fair treatment of telecommuting employees, the “Work From Home” Law specifically states that telecommunicating employees are entitled to the following:
- Receive a rate of pay and benefits not lower than what applicable laws provide, including overtime pay and night shift differential,
- Be awarded rest days, breaks, and holidays, both regular and special non-working ones,
- Have equivalent, if not the same, workload and performance standards as those working in the regular workplace,
- Receive the same training and career development opportunities and be subjected to the same assessment processes as those working in the regular workplace,
- Be trained on the correct use of available devices, equipment, and computer technologies, and learn the characteristics and conditions of telecommunication and/or computer technologies, and
- Have the same rights as those working on the employer’s premises and have access to communication with the workers’ representatives.
The telecommuting act also gives emphasis on data protection. Since employees will be using computer technology to perform their work, sensitive data must be protected, and access should only be granted to specific people. Lastly, it is the employer’s duty to protect the data that the employees can use and process in a professional context.
The other provisions of the telecommuting act also include the Telecommuting Program, Administration of the Telecommuting Program and Agreement, and the necessity to create Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Telecommuting Program and IRR
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 11165 lays the foundation for the Telecommuting Program. Furthermore, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) tackled the program more extensively.
The telecommuting program allows an employee to work away from the office premises. The R.A. No. 11165 and the IRR both stipulate that the program is offerable to employees in the private sector voluntarily and mutually agreed upon terms. The terms of the agreement must not be lower than the minimum labor standards mandated by the law. Furthermore, it must include payable working hours and the minimum number of working hours and off days. This includes holidays, rest days, overtime, and leave benefits.
It is also stipulated by the republic act and the IRR that the employer is responsible for promptly and properly informing the telecommuting employee of the terms and conditions of the telecommuting program and their responsibilities through relevant written information.
Furthermore, the IRR provides the following guidelines on what the telecommuting agreement must contain to implement the telecommuting program effectively.
Guidelines on the Telecommuting Agreement
- Code of conduct and performance evaluation and assessment
- Suitable alternative workplace(s)
- Usage and price of necessary equipment(s)
- Work days and hours
- Terms of employment, pay, and benefits, especially those specific for telecommuting employees,
- Non-reduction of benefits
Benefits of Telecommuting
Telecommuting has revolutionized both the workplace and work in general, prompting changes in employment agreements. It has brought significant advantages to both employers and employees. Here are some of them.
- Minimized Operating Costs
- Reduced Employee Expenses
- Lower Stress Levels
- More Flexibility
- Better Work-Life Balance
- Better Employee Experience
- Lower Turnover Rates
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