Manila – Researchers from the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) presented their 2020 study on Telecommuting during a special meeting with the Technical Executive Committee composed of the Department of Labor and Employment’s tripartite partners representing labor and employment sectors last April 27 via Zoom.
The research titled, “Exploring Telecommuting as the New Normal Work Arrangement: A Rapid Assessment of Telecommuting Practices Prior and During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was authored by Joyce Anne S. Lumactud, Supervising Labor and Employment Officer and Franchesca Rose S. Castillo, Labor and Employment Officer III from the Labor and Social Relations Research Division (LSRRD) of the ILS. The same paper was presented during the 2020 DOLE Research Conference last March 25.
With the enactment of Republic Act No. 11165 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, telecommuting, a type of flexible work arrangement was institutionalized in 2018. This study analyzed the trends and practices on telecommuting prior and during COVID-19 pandemic, in aid of developing an operational framework for companies to adopt in times of emergency situations (e.g., pandemic).
Findings of the study revealed that, telecommuting is not the only option of companies in implementing flexibilities in their workplaces even during the pandemic. Their choices are geared toward flexibility in work hours rather than flexibility in the place of work, because certain job functions, not industries, are not “telecommute-able.”
The lack or limited consultation with employees on the aspects of telecommuting (policy/guidelines, eligibility, and rights and benefits of telecommuting employees) resulted to variations in implementing the work arrangement which caused several challenges for the employers, workers, and the DOLE. The study revealed that social dialogue is very important, particularly in formulating industry/sector-specific guidelines such as: (1) determining the eligibility of employees; (2) employer-shouldered costs; and (3) rights and benefits of telecommuting employees.
Similarly, the study also recommended a standard template agreement to serve as guide for companies. In addition, reporting should be improved (i.e., reporting from DOLE Regional Offices to Program Managers) including company size, reasons for telecommuting as well as practices, particularly on industries implementing telecommuting in accordance with the provisions of the Telecommuting Act and its IRR.
The findings of the telecommuting study will be part of the draft Guidelines for Registration of Digital Platforms for Local Employment Facilitation, which is an ongoing policy priority project of the Bureau of Labor Relations.
The full policy paper can be downloaded from the official webpage of the Institute for Labor Studies via this link: https://ils.dole.gov.ph/exploring-telecommuting-as-the-new-normal-work-arrangement-a-rapid-assessment-of-telecommuting-practices-prior-and-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/