Everyone seems excited to know that Republic Act 11165, also known as ‘telecommuting bill’ or more popularly known as ‘work-from-home bill’ has been signed into law. At first glance it looked like the solution to work-life balance we’ve all aspired to have. Yay, relief from traffic and unreliable public transpos!
But let’s all calm down a bit and take a look at what the law actually says. Here are the things we should know about this bill.
The Telecommuting Program is Voluntary
That’s right; it is still up to the employer to decide whether they would offer telecommuting as an alternative to its employees. The law only provides that should the companies offer work-from-home arrangements, labor standards and benefits should still be provided as mandated by existing labor laws. Currently, there are some companies that are already giving their employees one day in a week wherein they can work from home. Let’s see if more companies will be pressured to do the same, given that it is not mandatory for them to do so.
The Bill does Not Provide Implementing Rules and Regulation
As with most bills, the implementing rules and guidelines will be crafted only after it is signed by the President and enacted into law. In this case, the Secretary of Labor and Employment is given 60 days to issue the appropriate rules and regulation, after consulting with all relevant stakeholders.
The DOLE is Instructed to Come Up with a Pilot Program
As this bill is unprecedented, the Department of Labor and Employment will set up a pilot program of telecommuting in select industries for a period of not more than three years. This will enable the agency to provide a baseline for the implementation, as well as monitor and evaluate the effects of telecommuting in the employment sector. The DOLE will submit their findings to Congress.
The Law Protects Employees Rights in Telecommuting Programs
What is provided in the bill is the protection of the employees rights and benefits should the company decide to provide an alternative work scheme to its workforce. This means that even if, say, you are to work one day a week from home, you will still be entitled to the number of leaves, wages, health benefits and promotion as those who do not work from home. You will still be entitled to your rest days, holidays and special non-working days while getting equal workloads as those not working from home.
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