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The Institute for Labor Studies’ (ILS) Acting Deputy Executive Director (DED) Patrick Patriwirawan, Jr, reiterated teleworking safety nets as one of the discussants during the webinar titled “Rethinking Work Arrangements: Telework Potential in the Philippines” organized by the Asian Institute of Management Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness (AIM RSN-PCC), in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines Office, held on October 21.

The said webinar mainly presented and discussed the results of the study titled, “Telework Potential in the Philippines,” which estimates that only about 25.7% of occupations in the Philippines can be teleworked, and that an overwhelming majority (88%) of the labor force is engaged in occupations that cannot be teleworked. It also analyzed how different factors such as sex, educational attainment, income, access to technology and the internet affect the extent to which employees can feasibly work from home. Researcher Ammielou Gaduena also shared the solutions that would help those working in non-teleworkable occupations during the ongoing pandemic and future crises, and gave a forecast of the future of telework or work from home setups in the Philippines.

Acting DED Patriwirawan, Jr. joined two other discussants, namely, Dr. Emmanuel Esguerra, former Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Dr. Geoffrey Ducanes, Associate Professor at the Ateneo de Manila University. He generally agreed with the findings of the study and recognized the uneven adoption of technology for workers to be able to telework depending on several factors that include capacity of firms to adapt, skills required, geographic locations, including ease of access to infrastructures to ensure inclusiveness in the transition. He also acknowledged the recurring challenge for the government to ensure availability of information from both the demand side and the supply side that would be required by the industries once they transition to technologies that would allow workers to telework. He explained that for the Department of Labor and Employment to effectively provide appropriate and responsive interventions, it needs to understand in detail what particularly is happening during job transformations.

“The study definitely leads us to that direction by showing the processes, tasks or activities and to what extent they will be changed or transformed. It is in these areas where the impact will be more felt by the workers whether they will be retained or they will have to leave, and where interventions will be greatly needed. From a research perspective and through the findings presented in this paper, what can be recommended is come up with a basic comprehensive employment strategy for the Future of Work, which will take into account various disruptors such as the 4th Industrial Revolution, including the emergence of pandemics and calamities or and natural disasters. We look forward to working with AIM in coming up with more responsive human-centric, evidence-based strategies to address policy issues on telework and the future of work.”

In response to the question on the government's actions in helping workers who do not have access to tools needed for telework such as digital devices and stable internet connection, DED Patriwirawan, Jr. replied that the existing telecommuting law already provides for what is needed by workers to do telework, primarily considering that it should be on voluntary basis and on terms that are mutually agreeable to both parties. He said that the law’s main assumption is that there is already an existing employer and employee relationships to ensure responsibility and duties for both parties. He further noted that the implementation of a telecommuting program in firms necessitates agreements on eligibility, applicable code of conduct, appropriate alternative work places, use and cost of equipment, details on work days and hours, conditions of employment, compensation and benefits, provision for non-diminution of benefits, occupational safety and health standards, including observance of data privacy.