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Work from home scheme maybe good to employees but endangers workers’ rights to organize and bargain

By Associated Labor Unions
June 21, 2018

QUEZON CITY – The work from home flexible work arrangement may have good benefits to some employees but workers’ group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) expressed concern that it also threatens to deprive workers’ rights to organize and collective bargain for better wages and benefits.

Without diminution of wages and benefits, House Bill 7402 or Telecommuting Act otherwise known as the work from home proposal is attracting many young workers in urbanized cities and municipalities to adopt the arrangement due to the availability of the internet and the hazards caused by traffic congestion and inadequate mass transport infrastructure.

It has passed the third reading in the House of Representatives two weeks ago and now pending in the Senate for its counterpart measure.

“While the flexible work scheme may save urban workers from an average 2 to 4 hours daily agony and disease-causing stress caused by commuting through traffic jams and poor mass transport system, cut fuel, transport and parking expenses and improve work-life balance, the arrangement may also deprive workers of their right to organize themselves as a union and to collective bargain for better wages and benefits,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of workers’ group Associated Labor Unions (ALU).

“It is very important, therefore, for its tripartite-drafted implementing rules and regulation (IRR) to be crafted by the Department of Labor and Employment that guides employees and employers in the application of the scheme at the same time to promote the right to organize and to collectively bargain,” Seno said.

Workers’ social protection insurance and exposure to occupational safety and health hazard caused overwork and fatigue must also be addressed effectively in the preparation of the IRR, Seno stressed.

Those affected by the measure would be those enterprise-based workers who wanted to perform tasks off-site and those independent or freelance contractors who wanted to work at home.

Workers may also minimize exposure to pollution during commute and hazards caused by floods and typhoons while employers and business owners would be able to reduce overhead and production costs.

More employment opportunities for mothers, differently-abled and persons-with-disability are other positive benefits once the working at home bill is approved into law.

ALU spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, for his part, said the off-site arrangement is not applicable to some industries particularly those jobs that require operating machines, rendering frontline services and doing agricultural work.

However, work from home is applicable to IT, business process management, business process outsourcing, animation, journalist, writers, transcriber, social media management, data entry, customer service, project management, and web designer and developer, Tanjusay said.

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