THE law allowing employees to work from home or any place other than their office through technological means is a “welcome” one in the Philippines, as it could boost their productivity and reduce their commuting hours and costs, the chief of a leading auditing company said.

In a statement, P&A Grant Thornton Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Maria Victoria Españo called Republic Act (RA) 11165, or the “Telecommuting Act,” a “welcome development” for workers.

“Working from home can…be more productive, as employees do not have the distractions or hectic pace of an office environment,” she explained.

According to Españo, a work-from-home arrangement gives workers greater control over their work hours and location.

“For existing employees, eliminating the daily commute will keep them happy enough to stay with an employer for the long term,” she said.

The P&A Grant Thornton chief also said that, through a telecommuting arrangement, employees could save on fuel, parking fees, vehicle maintenance, public transport fare, clothing purchases and other expenses.

Employers can also benefit from the practice, for it saves them money that would normally be spent on office supplies, furniture, equipment, coffee and janitorial services.

Españo made it clear, however, that telecommuting is subject to the discretion of the employer.

There are several considerations that must be taken into account, and appropriate planning must be made to address before introducing the practice, according to her.

“Employers and employees must consider both the pros and cons of the arrangement and appropriately plan for it,” Españo added.

Among the cons are securing the technology needed for telecommuting, office data security, work location and appropriate supervision.

RA 11165’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) dictate that both employer and employee must agree on minimum standards that will protect personal information and use available technologies that promote security and privacy.

“Companies must ensure that potential vulnerabilities to cybersecurity and data privacy are addressed before they are [given] access to company systems,” Españo said.

She raised a possible challenge to employers when the rules provided that telecommuting employees must be given overtime and night shift differential.

“Employers must set up a system to monitor working hours, based on verifiable metrics other than time report cards or observance of actual physical presence,” she proposed.

Under the IRR, employees shall receive a pay rate, including overtime and night shift differential, and other similar monetary benefits not lower than those provided by applicable laws and/or collective bargaining agreement.

She suggested that the company must establish ways for their employees to have access to various resources.

“Culture is a big part of what makes employers great — the way in which they treat their employees, reward effort and so forth. Companies must recognize the risk and, thus, schedule group activities on a regular and timely basis,” Españo said.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 04 October 2019