On 20 December 2018, the Telecommuting Act (Republic Act No. 11165, the “Act”) was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. The new law allows private sector employees to telecommute or work from home on a voluntary basis. The new Act was published on 10 January 2019, and entered into effect 25 January 2019.
The Act aims to promote work-life balance and address traffic congestion country-wide. The law offers a new legal framework for telecommuting that encourages companies to provide their employees with flexible working environments, similar to the compressed workweek scheme and flexi-holidays, which already exist under current Philippines regulations.
Under the new law, telecommuting is defined as a working arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workspace through the use of telecommunication or computer technologies.
The telecommuting program may be offered by employers to employees on a voluntary basis and upon agreement of both parties, so long as the terms and conditions are not less than the minimum labor standards set by law and collective bargaining agreements. The law requires employers to establish a written agreement for telecommuting employees. The agreement needs to address compensable work hours, overtime, rest days and entitlement to leave benefits.
The telecommuting employee should be given the same treatment as that of comparable employees working at the employer’s premises. Telecommuting workers shall:
- Have the same or equivalent workload and performance standards.
- Have the same access to training, career development opportunities and appraisal policies.
- Have the same collective rights as non-telecommuting workers.
- Receive training on the appropriate equipment at their disposal.
In addition, the employer should take measures to prevent the isolation of telecommuting workers. Measures could include regular team meetings and shared access to company information. The employer must inform the telecommuting workers of all relevant laws and company rules regarding data protection and ensure the protection of data by all employees.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be establishing a telecommuting pilot program in select industries for a maximum period of three years. The pilot program will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting options and will adjust regulation in accordance with their findings.
Employers should review their current telework
policies and monitor the timeline of the implementation of the rules and
regulations, which is expected to be published by mid-March 2019 (60 days after
publication of the Act). The rules for implementation will also specify any
industry variation covered by the new law.
Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines No.1363 Republic Act No. 11165 of 2018 – An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector, 2019.