In the ever-changing modern workplace, the advancement of technology and communications has played a very significant part. From fax machines to video conferences to the internet itself, a lot has happened to enable businesses to connect employers, executives and employees over distances in order to do work. One established trend in that vein is telecommuting, also known as working from home, where an employee does his duties via internet-connected computer and sent to his employer online. Such an arrangement is known to cut down on travel cost and workspace, and the Philippine government has been interested enough in the idea to do legislation for it.

This lawmaking work to make provisions for telecommuting came to a head when it was revealed Thursday, January 10, that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the “Work from Home Bill” into law, according to Inquirer.NET. Republic Act No. 11165 or the “Telecommuting Act” was consolidated from Senate Bill No. 1363 and House Bill No. 7402 which was passed back in October 3 last year. The President actually put his signature on the act on December 20, though it was only this year that the documentation of the duly signed act was released to the public.

According to the Telecommuting Act, the term “telecommuting” is now legally defined as a work arrangement allowing a private employee to work outside of a company workplace, usually from his own place of residence but applicable anywhere through the means of computer technologies and telecommunication networks. In essence, an employee who has a computer and internet connection, plus any other necessary means of communicating with his employers, can therefore do work for the company that way without needing to be physically present in an office.

Republic Act No. 11165 is not a blanket regulation that compels all private companies to have their employees work via telecommuting. Rather, it gives the provision that a firm’s employees who would volunteer to do their work from home with a reliable computer and telecom infrastructure should be allowed on that basis. Furthermore, the Act mandates that a company must treat its in-office workers and telecommuting employees equally in terms of pay and other benefits.

In accordance with the terms set down in the Telecommuting Act, the Secretary of Labor must begin consultation with corporate stakeholders to formulate a set of implementing rules and regulations to give specifics to how this new law will work. They have a period of 60 days to do so.

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