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Labor dep’t sees infrastructure as a hurdle to telecommuting law

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DoLE
PHILSTAR

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said weak IT and electronic infrastructure in some areas could pose a barrier to telecommuting work arrangements.

The Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) welcomed the efforts of legislators to enact a law on telecommuting but added that infrastructure in many areas may not be sufficiently developed.

“The infrastructure is a challenge,” said BLE Director Dominique R. Tutay in an interview with BusinessWorld Friday when asked about possible difficulties in implementing the Telecommuting Act.

On Wednesday, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposal legislation which will allow workers in the private sector the option to adopt work-from-home arrangements.

The BLE Director cited Internet speeds and wireless connectivity in some areas as possible issues.

“First and foremost is our Internet connectivity. It’s not very good at the moment. There are areas where the signal is fluctuating even in the urban areas. That is still a big challenge),” she said.

She added that unreliable power in many areas will also be an issue.

Ms. Tutay said that she hopes other government agencies and even the private sectors can help address these issues when telecommuting work arrangements are allowed by law.

According to Speedtest.net, the Philippines has a global ranking of #81 in the Fixed Broadband Category with a downloading speed of 17.57 megabits per second (mbps) and #98 in the mobile broadband with a downloading speed of 14.07 mbps.

Despite the challenges that the proposed law might face, the labor department still welcomes the measure which will allow employers to offer a telecommuting program for workers based conditions both the employer and employee agree on.

“We’re actually welcoming the initiative of our legislative department in keeping up with the changes in the labor market. Meaning there’s more flexibility for our workers,” Ms. Tutay said.

The House of Representatives and Senate versions of the Telecommuting bill requires DoLE to draft guidelines on telecommuting work arrangements. She added that the department is also required to monitor how companies and industries implement the bill.

“In the bill, we are given three years to do some industry studies.

We will see what the global practices are and whether our labor standards will work,” she said.

The Telecommuting Bills also give DoLE the responsibility to conduct a “Telecommuting Pilot Program” in selected industries. Ms. Tutay said that the labor department is looking at the following industries for the pilot program: wholesale and retail; Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IT-BPM); and the engineering and architectural design components of construction. — Gillian M. Cortez