Legarda: Lifting the ultimatum on BPOs is better for the industry

March 15, 2022

Three-term Senator, and now senatorial candidate, Loren Legarda today expressed her support for the call of the business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and workers for
the government, through the Fiscal Incentives Review Board, to temporarily lift its ultimatum requiring BPO workers to physically report to work starting April 1, 2022.

As principal author of House Bill No. 6864, or the Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act, Legarda has been pushing for the enactment of the proposed measure that would allow the private sector to implement and adopt alternative work arrangements that would balance the need to ensure continuity in business operations and sustain productivity, while looking after the welfare of workers, employees and even the management of private commercial, industrial and other businesses.

Such alternative arrangements include, but are not limited to, work-from-home schemes and implementation of rotational work or shifting in schedules.

“We crafted the proposed measure when we had just been hit by the pandemic, and our main goal then was to curb the spread of the virus. This is still what we are aiming for because even if many, if not most, of our workers have already been vaccinated, we continue to face health risks caused by the pandemic, specially given the mutating nature of the virus giving way to new forms that continue to pose threats to public health,” Legarda said.

“Moreover, and unfortunately, we now have other factors to consider aside from COVID-19: the unexpected oil price hike caused by the Russo-Ukrainian crisis which now affects the prices of our basic commodities, and the climate crisis which is expected to get even worse if we do not take drastic measures such as reducing our total carbon footprint, “ Legarda added.

Legarda also added that the changes that have been adopted in our respective workplaces in the past two years since the pandemic started have given workers the opportunity to rethink the way they live, interact, and do their jobs, and “many have remained committed to ensure that productivity and company operations are not compromised or sacrificed. Thus, we must undertake measures that would provide and prioritize the comfort and safety of our workers in general, and our BPO workers, in this case.”

Working from home (WFH) has proven to be an effective way to minimize health risks and prevent the spread of COVID-19 without hurting the economy. Even with the WFH arrangement, the Philippine economy was able to survive in the last two years, and thanks to the growing number of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, our economic activity is now more active than ever. We believe the WFH arrangement can sustain this momentum.

Temporarily lifting the ultimatum would also help our 1.3 million BPO workers endure the rising fuel prices and transportation costs, affording them the same mitigating opportunities we give to other sectors affected by the current crises.

“Let us continue supporting our BPO workers, and if allowing them to continue the WFH arrangement gives them the comfort and safety they need to continue doing their jobs effectively, and if doing so does not hurt or cost the government anything, as public servants, we ought to do that,” Legarda concluded.

House Bill No. 6864 was passed by Congress on August 8, 2020, and has since been pending in the Senate.***