Privacy Commission allows employers to install monitoring software in company-issued devices of WFH employees

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2020   •   537

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.

French finance minister: working from home is not panacea for virus

UNTV News   •   June 15, 2020

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)

(Production: Michaela Cabrera)

LOOK: Pet owners share work from home experiences

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 14, 2020

Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, countries have implemented work from home schemes to protect citizens from the spread of the virus.

Aside from being safe from getting infected, pet owners are able to spend more time with their fur buddies.

Several of the pet owners share the ups and downs of working from home with their pets.

Despite the interruptions and shenanigans of these pets, they are still 100% loved and a good company to be with during the quarantine. AAC

Poe urges employers to ensure workers’ safety, maintain work-from-home scheme in GCQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe has called on employers to, as much as possible, maintain the work-from-home scheme even in areas that are under general community quarantine (GCQ) to lessen the transmission of COVID-19 among workers.

“Ang aking apela sa mga kompanya saka yung mga nasa government sector, kung hindi kailangan pumasok ng mga empleyado ninyo at puwedeng magtrabaho sa kani-kanilang mga tahanan, huwag nang papasukin,” Poe said.

The senator made the appeal after holding a virtual Senate hearing Monday on the preparations of the transport sector for the resumption of public transportation operations once the community quarantine is lifted.

She said it seems that the transport sector is not yet 100% ready to resume operations even at a limited capacity under GCQ.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on Public Services, noted that based on the hearing, various government agencies have prepared precautionary measures to ensure the safety of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, conductors and passengers.

However, there is still a possibility that a problem will arise in the implementation of these measures.

“Magkakagulo tayo pagdating sa pilahan, sa MRT sa LRT, sa mga bus, sa mga istasyon ng bus dahil kalahati lang o 30% lang ang pwedeng ipuno ng mga sasakyan na ‘yun,” she said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said during the hearing that around two million commuters are expected to take public transportation once Metro Manila is placed under the GCQ.

Poe said this number could still be reduced if companies in areas under a relaxed quarantine status will still continue to implement work from home scheme.

She also called on telecommunication companies to improve their services to provide reliable internet connections, especially now that more workers are conducting their businesses and jobs from the confines of their homes.

“‘Yung mga pinapangako na pagpapatayo ng cell towers para yung transmission ng cell towers, para ‘yung transmission ng signal mas magaan, mas mabilis, payagan na natin. Gawin na natin para mas madaling magtrabaho mula sa bahay,” she said.

Metro Manila and other places characterized as high-risk areas will be under modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting May 16. Other areas with moderate and low-risk from COVID-19 will soon shift to GCQ.

Under a modified ECQ, movement within the zone will be limited to obtaining essential services and work; up to 50% workforce and operation of selected manufacturing and processing plants will be allowed; transportation services will also be limited to essential goods and services; while physical classes in schools will remain suspended. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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