DOLE sees telecommuting a solution to traffic woes
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Amid the worsening traffic problem and the challenging daily commutes that people have to endure every single day, DOLE-7 director Salome Siaton sees telecommuting as a way to help lessen road congestion especially in the urban center where the economic activities are concentrated.

Siaton, in a statement, said there has to be a telecommuting program that should be put in place before any telecommuting work arrangement is allowed and implemented in a certain company.

 Telecommuting or a type of work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or internet would require a set of clearly defined guidelines and rules that would govern the implementation of such arrangement.

“We have already started doing information dissemination about the new Telecommuting Law. In fact, it’s one of the topics forming part of the learning sessions conducted among the various company-members of the Industry Tripartite Councils and Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils in the Region,” she said.

Companies, she said, may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis or as a result of collective bargaining agreement but must ensure that telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as that of comparable employees working at the employers’ premises.

She cautioned companies though, to closely look into the nitty-gritty of such employment arrangement and see to it that both parties – employer and employees- adhere to and be guided by a mutually agreed policy or agreement in telecommuting.

Relevant written information must be provided to the telecommuting employees in order to adequately apprise the individual employee the terms and conditions of the telecommuting program as well as the duration of the program and the employees’ rights, duties and responsibilities.

 “It is imperative that both the employer and the employees express mutual consent to the implementation of a telecommuting work arrangement based on a telecommuting program of the company, Collective Bargaining Agreement if unionized, and other company rules and regulations,” she said.

The telecommuting program, she added, should stipulate the following, namely: (1) Eligibility; (2) Applicable code of conduct and performance evaluation and assessment; (3) Appropriate alternative workplace; (4) Use and cost of equipment; (5) Work days and/or hours; (6) Conditions of employment, compensation, and benefits particularly those unique to telecommuting employees; (7) Non-diminution of benefits; (8) Occupational Safety and Health; (8) Observance of data privacy policy; (9) Dispute settlement; and Termination or change of work arrangement.

“Whatever is being provided under a telecommuting agreement, it should be ensured that the terms and conditions therein should not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law and shall include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, entitlement to leave benefits, social welfare benefits and security of tenure,” said Siaton.

 Companies interested to adopt and implement telecommuting work arrangement should notify the DOLE by submitting an accomplished DOLE prescribed report form.

Department Order No. 202, Series of 2019 provides the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11165, otherwise known as the “Telecommuting Act.”  FPL (FREEMAN)

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