THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already drafted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act.
Signed into law by the President on December 2018, the Telecommuting Act stipulates that employers are encouraged to adopt telecommuting—a work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and or computer technologies.
Businesses that will implement work-from-home arrangements must also commit to data protection, according to the draft IRR released to reporters.
The draft IRR has also yet to be signed.
According to Section 5 of the IRR on data protection, the employer and employee shall agree on minimum standards that will protect personal information, and shall utilize available technologies that promote security and privacy.
“The employer shall be responsible for strictly taking the appropriate measures to ensure the protection of data used and processed by the telecommuting employee for professional purposes,” read a portion of the IRR.
The provisions of the Data Pivacy Act of 2012 shall also have suppletory effect for this purpose.
Employees shall also notify the DOLE of the adoption of a telecommuting work arrangement by accomplishing a report form and submitting the same in hard or digital copy, to the nearest Dole Field or Provincial Office with jurisdiction over the area where the principal office is located.
The terms of any similar voluntary agreement between an employee and employer allowing work-from-home or similar arrangements entered before the effectivity of the law shall also not be impaired.
The labor department earlier said it already picked the Information Technology (IT) sector to pilot-test the implementation of the law.
The IT sector currently has many companies already engaged in telecommuting.
The DOLE is mandated under the law to select industries for its pilot program, which should not take more than three years to complete.
The pilot program aims to come out with the baseline for the standards which should apply to companies making use of telecommuting scheme.
The IRR is also subjected to a mandatory review after three years from its effectivity.
Under the Telecommuting Act, an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon, provided that it shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law.
It shall also include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days and entitlement to leave benefits.
The employer shall also ensure fair treatment for the telecommuting employees.
Aside from promoting work-life balance, the law is also intended to help workers deal with traffic congestion and its tremendous effects on the economy.