MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to make work from home arrangement a mandatory option offered to employees has been filed in the Senate.
In filing Senate Bill No. 1448, Senator Imee Marcos noted that alternative working arrangements are becoming a new normal in offices due to the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Marcos said her bill proposes to introduce amendments to the Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act to make working from home a mandatory option for employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not necessary for the completion of his or her job, and who have been in the company for at least a year.
“Should the physical presence of the employee be necessary for a particular task, the employer may require his/her attendance in the workplace, within office hours and during weekdays, but not more than twice a week,” Marcos said in her proposal.
Telecommuting is defined in the present law as a work arrangement that allows a worker to perform his or her tasks from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.
“Various sectors, including the labor sector, have to make major modifications in their policy to ensure compliance with social distancing measures,” Marcos said in the explanatory note of the bill.
“This bill, this seeks to strengthen the Telecommuting Law by making it mandatory, and not merely optional, for employers to offer telecommuting as an alternative to employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not absolutely essential to the performance of their functions,” she added.
The measure also states that a contract of employment should clearly indicate the eligibility of a given position for telecommuting.
“Clearly, a ‘new normal’ of social distancing, new hygiene standards and limited physical contact shall prevail into the future,” Marcos said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Telecommuting Act on December 20, 2018, after Senator Joel Villanueva pushed for its passage in the previous Congress.
Working from home is still a preferred option but is not the panacea for dealing with the problems caused by the coronavirus, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday (June 15), as France looks to speed up the re-opening of its economy.
“Working from home remains preferable, in the sense that it allows us to have a gradual return and can limit the circulation of the virus. But I’ve always considered that working from home was not the panacea,” Le Maire told France Info radio.
Even though many of France’s shops and restaurants have started to re-open, the major business districts of Paris remain empty as many employees are still working from home.
Le Maire also added that the state has begun to reduce its aid in covering partial unemployment benefits, to prompt companies to restart their activities. During the confinement period, the state covered 84 to 100 percent of salaries of furloughed employees.
He said working employees must be able to keep their purchasing power, to fuel consumption. (Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) says ‘yes’ to employers who would want to install monitoring software in company-issued devices to monitor their work-from-home (WFH) employees.
However, the NPC clarifies that such a decision must adhere to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act (DPA) which ensures that the rights and freedom of WFH employees remain protected.
The agency explains that “monitoring employee activities when he or she is using an office-issued computer may be allowed under the DPA, provided the processing falls under any of the criteria for lawful processing under Sections 12 and/or 13 of the law.”
Specifically, the NPC details the following obligations of employers in monitoring their WFH employees without breaching their privacy:
Employers must notify their employees that they are being monitored and why it is necessary.
Employers should conduct a privacy impact assessment of the monitoring software to determine potential risks and to be able to find ways on how to mitigate them.
Employers should also have clear guidelines on monitoring procedures.
Excessive and disproportionate mechanisms in monitoring are discouraged such as tracking mouse movements, recording keystrokes, taking random photos of the computer screen, enabling webcams to take a picture of the employee, etc.
Employers can not require employees to stay on video during office hours or even during overtime work as this is considered excessive and there are other available means of ensuring that employees are doing their assigned tasks.
Employers must provide proper ICT equipment, support facilities and mechanisms to the employees to ensure that personal data processing systems being used during WFH are secured.
Meanwhile, the NPC noted that both employers and employees must be guided by data protection and privacy policies at all times.
“We expect employers, whether in the government or the private sector, to process personal data responsibly and with accountability in order to address existing health threats brought by COVID-19,” said Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro.
“We also expect employees to cooperate to reasonable and appropriate collection of their information to mitigate COVID-19 related risks and keep their co-workers and visitors safe,” he added.
Liboro hopes that the guidelines will be able to produce best practices not only in the workplace but also in homes of employees working remotely.
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