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Business

Hybrid work-from-home setup for call centers, IT firms stays 'until further notice'

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 At the onset of the pandemic, the government allowed IT-BPM companies to implement work-from-home arrangements without worrying about losing their fiscal perks in a bid to arrest virus contagion.
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MANILA, Philippines — The government will allow outsourcing companies located in economic zones to continue implementing a hybrid work-from-home arrangement for their employees pending a decision on a request to extend such a set-up.

This means that, for now, Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) enterprises located in tax perks-giving ecozones can retain the “70% on-site and 30% remote work” setup beyond the September 12 expiration of a resolution that allows this arrangement.

The work-from-home setup for these companies will stay until the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) — which is in charge of policy making and overseeing the administration and grant of tax incentives — decides on a request from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to extend the arrangement.

"Considering the September 12, 2022 expiration of the resolution, it is just fair that we extend the WFH arrangement for IT-BPM companies until we finalize a resolution addressing the issue," Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in a statement on Friday.

According to Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, PEZA’s request is already included in the list of agenda items for the next FIRB meeting on September 15.

PEZA is the largest ecozone in the country. As of November 2021, there are 297 IT parks and centers and 1,273 IT-BPM companies registered with PEZA.

"Given the long-standing issue on the WFH extension for the IT-BPM sector, we hope the decision of the Board will finally bring clarity to the matter," said Tionko, who also serves as the chairperson of the FIRB Technical Committee.

“We listen to our stakeholders and see the WFH arrangement to be the new business model of most of the registered business enterprises. Hence, the discussion on this matter in the next FIRB meeting requires a more permanent measure from the inter-agency body,” she added.

 At the onset of the pandemic, the government allowed IT-BPM companies to implement work-from-home arrangements without worrying about losing their fiscal perks in a bid to arrest virus contagion.

The setup, in turn, helped the sector generate $26.7 billion in revenues and create1.32 million direct jobs in 2020 despite a pandemic-induced recession, data from IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) showed.

The IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the umbrella organization of IT-BPM companies in the country, earlier said that while the industry supports the need to fully reopen the economy and send workers back to offices, the government should allow "a smooth transition to onsite operations." — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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