Maintain worker productivity, safety in times of pandemic through telecommuting—Senator Villanueva

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Telecommuting work arrangements keep workers safe from infectious diseases like COVID-19 and maintain their productivity since they can continue fulfilling their duties and responsibilities wherever they are, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

While the rising threats to public health triggering a slowdown in the economy, Villanueva explained that companies can mitigate the impact if parts of their operations continue by implementing telecommuting in their respective organizations.

“Telecommuting allows organizations to maintain a level of productivity as we wait out for diseases like COVID-19 to taper off. The last thing we want to happen is that we become paralyzed with fear of the disease,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.

“If everything comes to a full stop, the economic gains we have been enjoying in the last 10 years will be put to waste,” he added. “We continue to encourage our friends in the private sector to consider telecommuting as a viable alternative to maintain their productivity while protecting their workers from COVID-19.”

He credited several companies who have announced the implementation of work-from-home schemes in their organizations as a response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country. As of March 9, 24 persons have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“We can all do our share in protecting our workers from the disease by minimizing their risk of getting infected. The least we can do now is to avoid public places such as public transportation terminals where social distancing can be tough to practice,” Villanueva said.

The lawmaker called on the Department of Labor and Employment to continue its effort to encourage companies to implement telecommuting work arrangements.

Republic Act. No. 11165  or the Telecommuting Act encourages the private sector to adopt a telecommuting work arrangement, more popularly known as “work from home.” The scheme must be based on mutually agreed upon rules by employers and their workers./Stacy Ang

The law reiterates that telecommuting programs should continue to uphold minimum labor standards such as workers’ health and safety, schedules and workloads, work hours, and social safety nets.

It also enshrines the protection of workers under a telecommuting arrangement, giving them the same rights such as equal pay and leave benefits, among others, as their office-based counterparts./Stacy Ang

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