Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday, March 18 called on the government to support the call of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to implement a four-day work week to address the continuous oil price hikes and apply it primarily to the business process outsourcing (BPO) workers.
Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, said there should be “policy cohesion” in terms of NEDA’s recent proposal, which also seeks to allow BPO workers to work from home.
“We cannot encourage industries to explore alternative working arrangements and at the same time order one industry to end remote work,” he said.
Villanueva, who earlier asked the government to withdraw its ultimatum to the BPO industry to end its remote work set-up, said allowing employees to work from home is still one of the “best energy crisis mitigation measures”.
“The most fiscally responsible ‘ayuda’ is the one in which the industry and workers determine their mitigation measures such as that proposed by the IT (information technology)-BPO workers,” the senator said.
In a letter dated March 17, Villanueva appealed to the Department of Finance (DOF) to reconsider the Fiscal Incentive Review Board’s (FIRB) decision, which allows IT-BPO enterprises to implement a work-from-home arrangement only up to the end of the month.
Aside from cushioning the impact of soaring oil prices, Villanueva also cited the benefits of work-from-home in dealing with the pandemic, as well as its effect in increasing productivity and promoting work-life balance for workers.
Villaneuva, principal author and sponsor of the Telecommuting or Work-From-Home Law, said he “believes that governmental policies should continue to encourage the adoption of alternative work arrangements for the health and welfare of our workers, as well as their employers”.
“While we understand the need to revive our small and medium enterprises (SMEs), options other than requiring workers to return to in-person work should be explored,” he said in his letter.