Senate bill seeks grant of P1,000 monthly allowance to work-from-home employees

Published July 14, 2020, 9:03 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

A bill seeking the grant of a P1,000 monthly allowance for work-from-home employees has been filed in the Senate.

Sen. Francis Tolentino (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald dela Rosa on Monday filed Senate Bill No. 1684 which proposes to expand the coverage of the Telecommuting Act (Republic Act No. 11165) and provide an additional incentive for employees who are working away from their workplaces to help ease their financial burden in paying utilities.

In explaining their bill, the administration lawmakers noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected work arrangements.

“Working from home tends to increase utility consumption, particularly electricity. Residential energy use has risen due to more people staying at home. Some people even purchase their own equipment for working at home. These additional expenses are out of the employees’ own pockets and for the benefit of the employer’s business,” Tolentino and Dela Rosa said in their bill.

Under the measure, “all employees working under a telecommuting program shall be entitled to a non-taxable allowance of at least P1,000 for every month served under such agreement, provided that nothing in this provision shall be construed to eliminate or in any way diminish supplements, allowances, or other employee benefits serving a similar purpose.”

Employers or the collective bargaining agreement are also allowed to provide higher and more favorable terms for the proposed incentives.

Meanwhile, the allowances granted by private employers to their employees shall be deducted from their income tax payments.

The bill proposes a fine of P100,000 for any violations.

During a Senate hearing on the complaints about the sudden increase in electricity charges during the COVID-19 pandemic last week, Tolentino proposed to deduct from tax payments the expenses incurred by work-from-home employees on electricity consumption.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) had said that electricity consumption went up by 30 percent during the community quarantine when people are made to stay home due to the threat of COVID-19.