Work-from-home employees will soon be on equal footing with their onsite counterparts, thanks to the Telecommuting Act of 2017. In the Philippines where working from the home is still the stuff of tall tales, the passing of this law is a welcome change. For those who are unable to work onsite, this could be the best thing that has ever happened since the PWD ID.
The new Telecommuting Act of 2017 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Joel Villanueva. Other supporters of this bill include Congressman Alfred Vargas (the original founder of PWDPhil) and Congressman Luis Raymund Villafuerte. The law is now awaiting the signature of President Duterte. If after 30 days, the President does not take any action, it will lapse into law, unless the President decides to veto it, which is not very likely. Working from home is a special arrangement that is increasingly becoming more popular as traffic and transportation has gotten more and more difficult. In Metro Manila, public transportation is best reserved for the physically able. Our public transportation has become inefficient because of the swelling population and catching a ride has gotten more difficult. For those who cannot bear the physical discomfort of standing inside a crowded bus for long periods of time, there are more expensive alternatives though quite expensive for the regular single income earner.
Long waits, long lines and even longer hours spent in traffic getting to and from the workplace, has made onsite working more inconvenient than it used to be. The Telecommuting Act of 2017 has presented companies with a carrot to dangle to employees that they are not ready to let go for a variety of reasons, such as the long training time needed for their replacements, or pregnancy/ illness, or even downsizing.
One of the biggest factors that have helped pushed the Telecommuting Act of 2017 into passage by both houses of Congress, is the worsening Metro Manila traffic. Apparently, the worsening traffic is also happening in the key cities in the provinces. Work-from-home arrangements can be just the solution needed by those who cannot afford to work onsite. To understand this law better, here are it’s basic characteristics:
- This law is not meant to force or compel employers to make some of the positions in their company to a work-from-home post. This is a voluntary program that companies can avail for some positions that stand to benefit most from such an arrangement. The Telecommuting Act of 2017 is meant to empower employers by having a clear framework in the law on how to manage and offsite workers.
- The law requires that the salary of onsite workers will be the same as those who telecommute. Similarly telecommuting workers must be given the same access to facilities, programs and benefits as those working onsite. There must be no difference or discrimination. Employers are also obliged to provide the telecommuting employee with the software and other related materials needed to accomplish the work.
- Conflict resolution will be handled as if it were within the company’s premises. If the employer has no conflict resolution mechanism in place, the Dept of Labor and Employment will act as the final authority in cases of work conflicts for the telecommuting employee.
For telecommuting to be recognized as a viable operations solution, this gives PWDs, especially those who are immobile, to find gainful employment in organizations willing to hire telecommuters. Aside from the convenience of not having to travel to and from the office, work-from-home arrangements also does away with the pressures of social dynamics and office politics. There are many good and efficient workers who are hampered from staying in an office where the social environment is teeming with watercooler talk. Workers who cannot tolerate such social dynamics well, will now have the opportunity to be employed and evaluated based solely on results and work output. Working from home can also be a good way to up productivity as the telecommuter will not be distracted by other co-workers. No more overstaying in the pantry, or 2-hour lunch breaks. Productivity will improve and supervision will be very minimal. However, this setup may not be good for the social butterfly as the people who live with telecommuter normally be the extent of his human interactions.
Depending on a worker’s personality, employers can now provide an important option for various types of worker profiles and boost productivity while also keeping employees happy. We look forward for this law to be followed by many companies. This will definitely open many doors for the PWD jobseeker.