NEDA asks lawmakers to review policy gaps in BPO industry

Published July 8, 2020, 12:44 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has urged the lawmakers to further look at the policy gaps in addressing the concerns of workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. 

National Economic and Development Authority

NEDA Assistant Director Myrna Asuncion asked the members of the House Committee on Labor and Employment to fully scrutinize the five measures seeking to provide protection to more than 1 million BPO employees in the country. 

“We have observed that many of the sections in the proposed bills are already established in various legal and policy documents like the Labor Code,  the Philippine Constitution, and the Occupational Health and Safety Standards,  among others,” she told the House panel’s recent virtual meeting. 

“Maybe it would be more proper to do a study and [there is a need] to look at policy gaps in addressing the concerns of those in BPO and ensure the responsiveness of the proposed provisions to the new normal,” Asuncion pointed out.

She said the NEDA recognized the “relevance” of the bills, considering the general risks being faced by the BPO workers, especially the health hazards. 

“A study by the ILO (International Labor Organization) noted by the DOH (Department of Health)  on this that the health problems encountered by employees included headache, fatigue, chest back pain and voice problems.  Aside from this, most of the country’s BPO operations served American and European clients where employees had to work night shifts because of the different time zones,” the NEDA official said. 

She said they will submit their prepared official position paper on the pending bills seeking to provide protection to the BPO workers once it gets clearance from NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Chua. 

On Tuesday, July 7, House Committee on Labor and Employment, chaired by 1-PACMAN partylist Rep. Enrico Pineda had directed its Labor Standards Subpanel to consolidate House Bills 274, 4236, 5590, 5754 and 6190, which all seek to protect and promote the rights and welfare of the BPO workers. 

The subcommittee is chaired by TUCP partylist Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza.

DIWA partylist Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay, one of the principal authors of the bill,  earlier noted that the bills have been pending since the 13th Congress and it is about time for the Lower Chamber to act on the measures that would protect the 1.3 million BPO employees. 

“As to revenue in 2017, the BPO has contributed at least US$23 billion to our country’s economy…Our country has consistently ranked among the top five outsourcing destinations in the world.  Hence, it is therefore imperative that Congress through this Committee must deliberate on the matters concerning the welfare of our BPO workers,” he said. 

Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo, one of the principal authors of the measure,  also cited the need for the Lower Chamber to enact a regulation that will ensure the protection of the interests and welfare of BPO employees.  

“This measure intends  to guarantee safe and humane working conditions for them,” she said.