Villanueva hails Telecommuting Act

Published January 11, 2019, 9:39 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva lauded the signing of Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act which would allow employees in the private sector to telecommute or work from their homes.

“We thank the President for supporting our bill that will promote our workers’ right to work-life balance and flexible work arrangement,” Villanueva, principal author, and sponsor of the law said.

Senator Joel Villanueva gestures during the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development hearing on the deaths of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), February 21,2018.(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Joel Villanueva (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

The senator, likewise, thanked his colleagues in Congress for supporting the passage of the measure.

“This is indeed a fitting New Year’s welcome for our dedicated Filipino workers,” he added.

President Duterte signed RA 11165 or An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector last December 20, 2018.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said the new law encourages employers to adopt telecommuting, which refers to the work arrangement allowing an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

Villanueva said aside from promoting work-life balance, RA 11165 will help in addressing traffic congestion “and its tremendous effect on the country’s economy.”

Under the law, the adoption of the work-from-home scheme will remain as the employers’ prerogative based on a mutual agreement between them and the employees.

Villanueva, however, stressed that the telecommuting program “should not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law including that for health and safety of workers, schedule and workloads, work hours, and social security.”

He said the law ensures “that the rights of home-based workers are protected by giving them equal pay, leave benefits and promotion as their counterparts in the office.”

RA 11165 mandates the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to come up with guidelines on the “fair treatment” of work-from-home employees.

The guidelines shall cover the rate of pay, including overtime and night shift differential, and other similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided in applicable laws, and collective bargaining agreements; as well as employees’ right to rest periods, regular holidays, and special non-working days.

Telecommuting workers shall also be granted equivalent workload and performance standards; and access to training and career development opportunities as those of comparable workers at the office premises, and be subject to the same appraisal policies covering these workers.

They shall also enjoy collective rights like the workers in office and shall not be barred from communicating with workers’ representatives.

The guidelines shall also spell out the characteristics and conditions of telecommuting.

Further, the Telecommuting law provides for the establishment of a telecommuting pilot program in select industries for a period of not more than three years to enable DOLE to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the telecommuting program in the country.

Villanueva said the signing of the measure paves the way for a “stable and consistent legal framework that can provide an enabling environment to encourage participation and enforce compliance among enterprises, big or small.”

Read more: Telecommuting Act signed into law