The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said on Monday that it supports the adoption of a hybrid work-from-home (WFH) agreement for the IT and business process outsourcing sectors until completion. of the year.
In a statement, PEZA chief executive Charito Plaza said he supports the proposal by the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) to continue the WFH arrangement for their industries beyond the March 31 deadline set by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB).
Plaza said PEZA and IBPAP have proposed a hybrid work program for the relevant industry which involves staggered implementation of on-site and off-site work. Under a hybrid work model, employees can work both onsite and offsite, PEZA said.
“We are constantly in talks with IBPAP to continue looking for ways to include telecommuting or a hybrid working model in the operation of the IT-BPO sector in the Philippines. We should learn from countries like India, one of our main competitors for IT-BPOs, where they are adjusting their policies and tax breaks to embrace a hybrid working regime,” Plaza said.
“PEZA and IBPAP are doing their best to ensure that the Tax Incentives Review Board [FIRB] immediately consider the hybrid work pattern with its three proposed schedules to adopt the 60:40, 40:60 or 50:50 staggered implementations and let the new administration determine the appropriate work pattern taking into account the suggestion,” Plaza added. .
Plaza explained that they supported the WFH hybrid arrangement for the IT and BPO industries due to the recent spike in fuel prices which made transportation more expensive for workers.
“The pandemic is not over yet although we are now at Alert Level 1,” she said.
“IT-BPOs invested during the pandemic for equipment and allowed their employees to telecommute so that returning 100% on-site was not a sudden and immediate decision; and adopting WFH also has benefits for decongesting traffic,” she added.
Plaza said their recommendation is consistent with Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act, which recognizes “working from an alternate work location with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technology.” . Plaza added that PEZA will support IBPAP’s presentation of the hybrid working model for IT-BPO industries at the FIRB.
“This is in line with the emerging alternative work programs being implemented by India and other economies realizing that remote working is here to stay and as an innovative solution to be able to particularly support their burgeoning IT services industry. boom,” Plaza said.
“We have to consider that we are not only facing the impact of the Covid pandemic, but also the domino effect of the ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia on the global market. The least we can do is help bring back our thriving economy, but not at the expense of our investors who help keep our economy afloat,” Plaza added.
The FIRB previously rejected PEZA’s request to extend telecommuting arrangements for IT-BPOs who receive tax incentives at the February 21 meeting of the interagency body. In January, the PEZA Board approved to recommend to the FIRB a policy allowing IT-BPO firms to continue operating under a WFH agreement without the 10% on-premises capacity until mid -September without reduction of tax incentives.
Due to the refusal of the FIRB, the WFH arrangement for IT-BPO industries will cease on March 31 and must conduct all its activities or projects on site from April.
“PEZA will still file its appeal for reconsideration of the FIRB denial. We hear the concerns of our investors and their workers and we will continue to press on this. In the meantime, I call on our businesses to follow the FIRB decision to avoid any sanctions,” Plaza said.
“While PEZA, as a regulatory agency, must comply with the FIRB decision, our locators should already begin planning the transition period for their return to the office, with workers starting to report on site as decided by the FIRB,” Plaza added.
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