DOLE issues new rules for firms with telecommuters

EMPLOYERS should pay for the facilities, equipment and supplies necessary for their workers to engage in telecommuting, according to a new issuance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma on Friday issued Department Order (DO) No. 237, series of 2022, which revised the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) of Republic Act No. 1165 or otherwise known as the “Telecommuting Act.”

Among the new provisions of the updated IRR is its Section 9, which directly stipulates facilities, equipment and supplies necessary to implement a telecommuting program in an “alternative workplace” should be considered as “necessary cost” of the employer.

This includes expenses for the acquisition, proper handling, usage, maintenance, repair, and return of the said company assets.

New provisions

The said provision was not included in the original version of the IRR contained in DO No. 202, series of 2019.

Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Secretary General Josua T. Mata lauded the clarification under DO 237.

“We believe this would help promote telecommuting,” Mata said.

He noted the provision was backed by representatives from labor and opposed by those from employers in the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).

Both groups eventually decided to let Laguesma decide on the matter.

“We appreciate the fact that policy was thoroughly deliberated in a tripartite manner that we believe is the better way of policy-making,” Mata said.

Another new provision contained in the revised IRR is that workers are not considered “field personnel” except when their actual hours of work cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.

Period of effectivity

The latest IRR retained its previous provisions such as: that the telecommuting work and the program for its implementations should be “mutually agreed upon” by concerned employers and workers.

It also reiterated the provision that the telecommuting program should not be less than the minimum labor standards, as well as not diminish or impair their terms or conditions of employment contained in any applicable company policy, practice, individual contract, or collective bargaining agreement.