DOH supports WFH for BPO workers to curb Covid spread

THE Department of Health (DOH) supports the work-from-home (WFH) setup for business process outsourcing (BPO) workers, seeing it as a vital means to control the spread of Covid-19 in the sector.

“Yes, we agree to this,” Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said during a news briefing when asked for her reaction following Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno’s pronouncement that BPOs could continue with the WFH arrangement and “because we know that more interaction [would mean] there is more transmission of diseases.”

Vergeire also said that the WFH scheme benefitted individuals.

“[Studies have shown that working from home] have helped individuals to be balanced mentally, physically and they have more drive to work,” the health official said. “It will help us not just during Covid but for other diseases as well.”

Last September 9, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) temporarily extended the WFH arrangement for the IT-BPM sector.

Diokno, who is also the FIRB chairman, said in a statement that it is just fair to grant the extension considering that the resolution related to the WFH arrangement is set to expire on September 12.

The Finance chief said the extension is applicable until they finalize a resolution addressing the issue.

This would be the third extension of the WFH arrangement that government granted to BPO firms enjoying tax perks.

Last year, appeals by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) on behalf of its locators, many of which are companies in the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry, have become a bone of contention between the Peza and the FIRB.

Finance officials have said last year that using the locator’s gross revenues instead of its workforce as the basis for WFH arrangements’ Peza’s appeal” is “not consistent with the economic strategy of the government to gradually and safely reopen the economy.”