THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) on Monday said it supports the adoption of a hybrid work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for the IT and business process outsourcing industries until the end of the year.
In a statement, PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said they support the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) proposal of continued WFH arrangement for their industries beyond the March 31 deadline set by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB).
Plaza said the PEZA and IBPAP have come up with a proposal for a hybrid work scheme for the concerned industry that involves a staggered implementation of both onsite and offsite work. Under a hybrid work model, employees can work from both onsite and offsite locations, PEZA said.
“We are constantly in talks with IBPAP to still look into ways to include WFH or a hybrid work model in the IT-BPO sector’s operation in the Philippines. We should learn from the likes of India, one of our top competitors for IT-BPOs, wherein they are adjusting its policies and tax breaks to adopt hybrid work arrangement,” Plaza said.
“PEZA and IBPAP are doing their best effort to have the Fiscal Incentives Review Board [FIRB] consider immediately the hybrid work scheme with its three schedules proposed to adopt the 60:40, 40:60, or 50:50 staggered implementations and let the new administration determine the appropriate work scheme considering the suggestion,” Plaza added.
Plaza explained that they support the hybrid WFH arrangement for the IT and BPO industries due to the recent spike in fuel prices that made transportation more costly for workers.
“The pandemic is not yet over although we are now in Alert Level 1,” she said.
“The IT-BPOs invested during the pandemic for the equipment and enabling their workers to do WFH in a way that going back to 100 percent onsite should not be a sudden and immediate move; and adopting WFH also has benefits for decongesting traffic,” she added.
Plaza said their recommendation is consistent with Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Law, which recognized “working from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.” Plaza added that the PEZA will support IBPAP’s presentation of the hybrid working model for the IT-BPO industries to the FIRB.
“This is in line with the emerging alternative work schemes implemented by India and other economies realizing that remote work is here to stay and as an innovative solution to be able to sustain particularly their booming IT services industry,” Plaza said.
“We need to consider that we are not only dealing with the impact of the Covid pandemic, but also the domino effect of the ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia on the global market. The least we can do is help bring back our thriving economy, but not at the expense of our investors who help keep our economy afloat,” Plaza added.
The FIRB earlier denied PEZA’s request for extension of the WFH arrangements for IT-BPOs that are enjoying fiscal incentives during the interagency body’s February 21 meeting. In January, the PEZA board approved to recommend to the FIRB a policy that allows IT-BPO enterprises to continue operating under WFH arrangement without the 10 percent onsite capacity until mid-September without diminution of fiscal incentives.
Due to FIRB’s denial, the WFH arrangement for the IT-BPO industries shall cease on March 31 and must conduct all its activities or projects onsite starting April.
“PEZA will still file its appeal for reconsideration on the denial by the FIRB. We hear the concerns of our investors and their workers and we will continue to lobby on it. For the meantime, I call onto our enterprises to follow the decision of the FIRB to avoid any penalties,” Plaza said.
“While PEZA as a regulatory agency has to abide by the FIRB’s decision, our locators should already start planning the transition period for their return to office, with workers starting to report on site as decided by the FIRB,” Plaza added.
This content was originally published here.