Friday, October 22, 2021

Keep work-from-home setup for IT-BPM firms, Peza appeals

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) has backed the appeal of IT-BPM companies to reconsider maintaining the work from home (WFH) arrangement to the extent of up to 90 percent of their total revenues.

Peza appealed to the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the exemption of IT-BPM (information technology-business process management) companies from the implementation of the WFH guidelines under the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) Resolution No. 21-19.

“The present appeal of the IT Enterprises is anchored on the threat posed by the Delta variant of Covid-19 to its employees which is considered more contagious,” Peza Director General Charito Plaza said.

In a letter to DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Peza backed the request of its IT-BPM locators to reconsider maintaining the WFH arrangement that Peza implemented at the beginning of the pandemic under Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-011 dated March 5, 2020 and further extended under various MCs until September 12, 2021.

Under Peza directives, registered IT enterprises were allowed to engage in WFH operations to the extent of up to 90 percent of their total revenues.

“Many of our locators are reeling from the effects of this pandemic, but they are continuing operations to comply with the global supply and demand. This continues to help us to keep the jobs of our people and our economy afloat. The little we can do is to assist them in matters such as this,” she said.

In recognition of the authority of the FIRB over investment promotion agencies, the Peza Board recommended the extension of the WFH arrangement.

Under Resolution No. 21-206 dated July 6, 2021, Peza requested that the extension of the WFH arrangement be based on the gross revenue of the IT enterprises.

The FIRB has approved the extension and Peza has released MC No. 2021-049 in adherence to the directives of FIRB. However, under FIRB Resolution No. 21-19, IT-BPM companies are directed to maintain at least 10 percent of their total employees onsite.

“This directive poses a problem because a number of employees are understandably hesitant to report to work because of the surge in the number of infections and the over-capacity of the hospitals in case they get infected by the virus. While the enterprises are grateful for the extension of the WFH arrangement, the health and safety of their employees is still their primordial consideration,” Plaza explained.

“This will defeat the purpose of the extension of the WFH arrangement, which is to limit the mobility of workers and lessen the pressure on public transport, because they will contribute to the number of people outside even if it is possible for them to perform their jobs within the confines of their respective homes,” she added.

Peza appealed to the FIRB to reinstate the basis of the threshold of the WFH arrangement to gross revenue instead of the total workforce as a temporary measure available to IT enterprises.

This is to support their recovery and protect their employees from the risks of contracting Covid-19 in the workplace.

The revenue-based computation of the threshold shall afford more protection to the employees and is more in keeping with the intent of the resolution.

For its part, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) has stated that the clarification on the threshold is “a fair treatment considering that any breach that might happen would only be due to compelling circumstances such as putting the health and safety of employees as more paramount.”

“In light of the recent surges in Covid-19 cases, our member companies are heeding the call of the National Government to place as many of their employees under WFH as possible so as not to expose them to the risk of catching Covid-19 when going out to work,”IBPAP said. (JOB)


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