Work from home (WFH) concerns are being forwarded by the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives as businesses operate remotely amid the pandemic, particularly ones on how workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are adjusting to the telecommute scheme. 

“The Information Technology Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry, which is considered as an economic growth driver employing about 1.3 million Filipinos, is among the biggest industries whose conduct of business is shifting towards work from home as call centers proved to [be] hotspots for COVID-19 spread, as seen in other countries like South Korea and Senegal,” says the lawmakers of House Resolution No. 997, which directs the House Committee on Labor and Employment to look into the matter.

The group added that on top of unstable electricity supply, internet service in the Philippines has been considered the slowest in the Asia Pacific in 2017, which is a defining factor (in almost all WFH jobs, actually) in the IT-BPM industry. The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) says that these are the common issues faced by WFH employees:

  • Lack of logistical assistance (such as delivery of equipment)
  • Longer working hours to compensate for “unproductivity” 
  • Unpaid wages due to poor or no internet connection
  • Unjust sanctions due to technical problems
  • Shouldering of internet and utility expenses by employees

BIEN also conducted a survey where data reveals that 77 percent of WFH employees shoulder their own internet costs while 54 and 20 percent did not receive internet allowance or work laptops, respectively. According to the lawmakers, decent working standards, labor rights protection and job sustainability should be at the core of government resiliency programs. They believe that the WFH setup can be beneficial for both the economy and businesses without having to put the employees’ welfare on the line.

Aside from the technical issues of  working from home, a remote work scheme can also upset the balance between an employee’s personal and professional life, which in turn can heighten their stress levels, result in poor management skills and affect their overall health. When managing the challenges of working from home, employers must guide their workers through this crisis by staying connected with them, all the while maintaining some boundaries. If anything, motivation to push through work despite a crisis is what they really need—and this starts by acknowledging that everyone is undergoing change at a different pace and will have varying responses to it.

The new resolution, which was signed by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite, and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, will at least enable a thorough review of a company’s remote scheme and provide solutions that will make WFH setups beneficial for both employers and employees.

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