Issues in working from home

Lately, WFH is getting a lot of media coverage because of its perceived novelty that impacts on the traditional relationship between employers and workers.

But work-from-home arrangement dates back to the medieval hunter-gatherer for hundreds of thousands of years until 12,000 years ago and was formally recognized at the start of the first industrial revolution in the 18th century.

During the second world war, American housewives and womenfolk left home and became factory workers to produce armaments, munitions, and war materiel as the men were drafted and sent to the war fronts in foreign lands.

After the war, when the soldiers returned, the women factory workers were displaced and sent back home.

But imbued with the strong desire to earn for themselves these women searched for opportunities to be productive in their homes. Tupperware business was born as the marketing of the product was carried out at social events in house parties.

Fast forward to today, with the advent of modern technology in communication many office workers discovered the autonomous and efficient remote work arrangement as an ideal alternative to physical presence in the office.

These digital nomads increased in number as the benefits for both employees and companies far outweighed the advantages of physical attendance in offices.

Congress soon joined the growing clamor for this new employment model and enacted the telecommuting law in 2018, two years before the Covid-19 pandemic to institutionalize the alternate work arrangement and provide protection to teleworkers.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and the strict lockdowns which truncated the economy and triggered the widespread increase in the newfound alternate work scheme.

Early indication showed the beneficial, efficient, and safe WFH model and several employers transitioned their employees to the new work order.

As WFH grew in number, Congress ordered DoLE to craft a revised and comprehensive Implementing Rules and Regulations of the telecommuting act to promote and protect the interest of both workers and employers.

Inarguably, much office work can be efficiently done via telecommuting provided it is voluntary on the part of employers, mutually agreed upon, and the Internet signal is fast and stable.

The unabated spread of the pandemic Covid-19, the ensuing lockdowns, restricted public transport and fear of virus transmission convinced workers and companies to fully embrace WFH as a regular work arrangement.

DoLE was mandated by policymakers to monitor its implementation and issue safeguards to protect workers and companies by clearly defining the parameters of the telecommuting law.

The overriding principle of the amendments is making WFH voluntary on the part of employers and mutually agreed upon by workers and employers.

During deliberations in the tripartite council composed of representatives from government, workers, and employer groups, many issues such as labor standards, security of tenure, LGBTQ concerns, overtime, promotions, joint inspections, cost of laptops and peripheral gadgets, security of tenure and many others were extensively debated.

Labor Secretary Benny Laguesma convened the National Tripartite Council to discuss the amendments drafted by DoLE to the telecommuting law and after a lengthy discussion, he skillfully navigated the contentious issues and obtained approval of both labor and employers to the draft amendments of the implementing rules and regulations of the telecommuting act.

In the coming months, the WFH will be under observation as Congress requires DoLE to submit its observations and evaluations on the efficacy of the WFH and recommend further fine-tuning of the IRR if and when required.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *