March 7, 2017
Viillanueva's sponsorship speech on Telecommuting Bill: 'Work-from-home is every worker's right'
I. Definition and Importance of Telecommuting
Mr. President, it is my honor and privilege to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1033 under Committee Report No. 44 or "An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting in the Workplace and For Other Purposes".
Telecommuting is a flexible work arrangement. It deviates from the "normal" set-up of work which are usually within the confines of office cubicles or central workstations. It is "working from anywhere other than a company's office or workplace" or more popularly known as "working remotely" or "working-from-home". Because telecommuting is triggered by internet-based communication system and mobile-oriented mindset, it makes commuting or travelling to a central place of work irrelevant or unnecessary.
Nagtanong po ako sa mga college students at fresh grads kung ano ang ideal work schedule sa kanila. Hindi na po ako na-sorpresa na karamihan sa kanila, ayaw sa 8AM-5PM jobs. Para sa mga kabataan o millenials, ang ideal work schedule ay anytime of the day and at the most convenient time and place. In short, work-from-home at online jobs ang ideal na trabaho ngayon.
Under Section 3 of the proposed bill, telecommuting is defined as "the partial or total substitution of computers or telecommunication technologies, or both, for the commute to work by employees."
Ito po ang mga trabahong naka-base sa bahay o mga trabahong ginagawa sa ibang lugar maliban sa opisina o karaniwang lugar ng trabaho ng isang manggagawa sa tulong ng internet o mobile devices.
Mr. President, your committee on Labor seeks to institutionalize telecommuting because we believe that working-from-home is every worker's right, it is relevant to the needs of millennials or the "new workforce", it is sensitive to the changing needs of employers.
Tama iyong mga kabataang nakausap ko: Bakit pa kailangang mag-report on duty kung pwede namang mag-log-in na lang sa computer? Sa halip na mag-DTR o biometrics para sa attendance, pwede namang tingnan na lang kung online o naka-access sa Virtual Private Network ng kumpanya ang empleyado. Ang mahalaga: mai-deliver ang inaasahang output ng trabaho. Senate Bill No. 1033 or the Telecommuting Act of 2017 will allow our workers to work-from-home, subject to the approval of their employers, and enhance their ability to get their jobs done.
II. Case Studies on Telecommuting
Mr. President, gusto kong ipakilala sa inyo ang ilan sa mga telecommuters na nakilala at nakausap namin para lubos nating maintindihan ang telecommuting:
Una po ay si LIZA na taga-Baguio. May full-time work pero hindi naman siya umaalis ng bahay nila sa Baguio City. Ang opisina n'ya ay ang sala ng kanilang bahay. Gamit ang isang computer at internet connection na sagot ng kanilang kumpanya, nagagawa niya ang lahat ng kanyang work responsibilties.
Dahil ang trabaho niya ay naka-base sa bahay, hands-on si Liza sa kanyang tatlong anak. Sabi niya, literal na "stress-free" ang kanyang nakuhang trabaho. Para sa kanya, na-achieve n'ya ang work-life balance dahil sa telecommuting.
Liza shared that her company is using a computer application and a camera that help her manager monitor her work at home. This is to ensure that she is productive, accountable, and in touch. To be an effective telecommuter, Liza said that expertise on ICT and certain personality traits are required.
Free from Traffic Woes
Ikalawa po ay si ARIEL, isang licensed electronics and communications engineer at "Next Generation Delivery Model Center Process Coach" sa isang multi-national information technology company sa Taguig. 'Di tulad ni Liza, telecommuter o work-from-home si Ariel isang araw lang kada linggo. May "mutual agreement" sa pagitan niya at ng kanyang company manager para ma-avail ang telecommuting.
Sagot ni Ariel ang gastos sa internet at computer dahil hindi naman siya regular telecommuter. Pero 'di na bale sabi nya dahil iyon naman ang pinakamagaang araw n'ya sa isang buong linggo dahil hindi n'ya kailangang mag-biyahe ng apat na oras papunta sa kanyang opisina sa Taguig at pabalik sa kanyang apartment sa Munoz sa Quezon City. Para kay Ariel, iwas sa malubhang traffic at tipid sa pamasahe ang telecommuting lalo na at wala siyang ibang dinadaanan papasok sa trabaho kundi ang EDSA.
Ariel's job includes training and coaching the new "Availability Assurance Team Members in the Global and Regional Centers" to be able to use the tools and apply different methodologies like Six Sigma and Outage Analysis Methodology, Change Management Techniques, among others.
Ikatlo po ay si DOREEN na empleyado ng isang multinational manufacturer ng family, personal and household care products. Siya ang humahawak ng payroll ng mga expat sa kanilang kumpanya sa BGC. Dahil regular employee siya ng kanilang kumpanya, entitled siya sa isa hanggang dalawang araw na telecommuting kada linggo.
Tulad ni Ariel, pre-aligned ito sa kanyang manager pero malinaw ang patakaran sa telecommuting dahil may written policy sila. Ang maganda, basta regular employee, pwedeng mag-avail ng telecommuting. Sabi ni Doreen, nagagawa niyang magbakasyon at mag-trabaho at the same time dahil sa telecommuting. Sabi n'ya long weekend siya palagi kapag natatapat ng Huwebes at Biyernes ang work-from-home niya. Dahil dito, mas productive at mas masaya sya sa trabaho.
Doreen shared with us that telecommuting entitles her to a monthly work-from-home alowance equivalent to the monthly internet package that she has at home. More so, she received a one time working-from-home allowance for home office set-up that includes airconditioning unit, desks, chairs, among others.
Panghuli at ikaapat ay si DAN, isa sa mga Human Resource People Advisor ng isang IT Company sa Cubao, Quezon City. Sa kumpanya n'ya, discretion ng employer kung magbibigay ng telecommuting privilege sa mga empleyado. Bagamat walang written policy on telecommuting ang kanilang kumpanya, sabi n'ya, ang "rule-of-thumb" ay basta't walang face-to-face meetings, pwedeng mag-telecommute. Para kay Dan, pang-millenial ang telecommuting pero madali din daw itong pag-aralan kahit sinong empleyado na marunong gumamit ng VPN o Virtual Private Network. VPN allows telecommuters to connect to the company network from home.
As a People Advisor in their company, Dan believes that the more freedom employees has and increased flexibility in the workplace, the longer they stay in the company. On the other hand, telecommuting benefits the company by having to spend less in onsite resources.
Mr. President, LIZA, ARIEL, DOREEN and DAN clearly illustrate how telecommuting addresses family obligations, reduces expenses and commute or travel time, improves productivity and sustains employee motivation.
III. Current Practices on Telecommuting
Is telecommuting a new practice in business? Not at all, Mr. President.
In a report of the International Labour Organization, telecommuting started in the 1980s (DOLE Labor Market Trends, 2014). Now, telecommuting is a global practice which is observed in the Asia Pacific Region, Americas, Europe and parts of the Middle East especially in components of work like communication and architecture.
Unfortunately, very few companies have adopted telecommuting in the Philippines. Liza, Ariel, Doreen and Dan are lucky for having the privilege to telecommute. But with the advancement in technology, I'm sure that many employers will follow suit.
In 2014, the US Software company VMware Inc. conducted a study involving corporations with more than 500 employees in the Philippines. They found out that 70 percent of their respondents who worked "on-the-go" claimed that they were more productive and creative. Also, 93 percent said that they used their smartphones for work while 73% said that working-from-home is an ideal work.
This maybe the reason why according to ECOP, there is a growing acceptance of telecommuting in many workplaces such as Meralco, SGS, Metro Pacific Investments Corp and Aboitiz Equity Ventures. In 2016, DOLE also reported that there are 261 companies with employees who are under voluntary flexible arrangements.
IV. Salient provisions of the Bill
Mr. President, the committee looked into the "best practices" in telecommuting to ensure that more employers will adopt telecommuting in the workplace:
First, telecommuting is employer's prerogative. It will be the discretion of the employer to offer telecommuting program to its workers based on a mutual agreement.
Second, telecommuting is voluntary. We considered several factors why companies opt to telecommute but we cannot make this mandatory because enterprises are differently situated. However, the bill guarantees that any telecommuting program should NOT be less than the minimum labor standards set by law.
Third, telecommuting treats employees fairly. The Committee would like to emphasize that employers should ensure that its telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as that of comparable employees working at the employer's premises.
Fourth, telecommuters are not isolated. Employers must ensure that measures are taken to prevent the telecommuting employee from being isolated from the rest of the working community in the company.
Fifth and finally, telecommuters are protected. The employer will be responsible for taking the appropriate measures with regard to software to ensure the protection of data used and processed by the telecommuting employee for professional purposes. The Committee included for this purpose, the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2013 to have suppletory effect.
Hinihikayat din ng panukalang batas na ito ang DOLE na tuloy-tuloy na pag-aralan kung anong mga trabaho ang angkop sa telecommuting at humanap ng mga pamamaraan upang mapalakas ang telecommuting sa iba't ibang industriya. Sa pag-aaral ng DOLE noong 2014, ang mga trabahong swak sa telecommuting ay encoders at transcriptionists, web developers, programmers at customer service assistants. Subalit base sa mga kwento nina Liza, Ariel, Doreen at Dan, pasok din maging mga engineers, HR managers, at people advisor.
Mr. President, we submit Senate Bill 1033 under Committee Report 44 so that telecommuting employees will not be subject to arbitrary policy changes, which may happen if telecommuting is governed by simply, a department order. The committee subscribes to the belief that a more stable and consistent legal framework will provide an enabling environment that will encourage participation and impose compliance among enterprises.
Maraming pag-aaral ang nagsabing kung mas maluwag ang iskedyul o mas maraming panahon para sa kanilang pamilya o sa personal nilang buhay ang mga manggagawa, mas magiging produktibo sila. Kung hindi sila susuong sa napakabigat na traffic araw-araw o mabubutas ang bulsa sa pamasahe, mas ngingitian nila ang mga trabaho nila.
Mr. President, our workers have the right to a work-life balance. They have the right to a flexible work arrangement. They have the right to be allowed to work-from-home.
Ipasa po natin ang Senate Bill No. 1033 para sa kapakanan ng mga manggagawang bumubuhay sa ekonomiya ng bansa habang nagtatrabaho sa loob ng kanilang mga tahanan o saanmang lugar, malayo sa kumpanyang kanilang pinagtatrabahuhan.
Thank you, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues.
God bless us all.
Tuesday, March 28
Monday, March 27