By Tina G. Santos, September 19, 2022; Philippine Daily Inquirer 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has expanded the work-from-home scheme and called on employers and workers to mutually adopt telecommuting programs to help sustain the country’s economic recovery.

Department Order No. 237, signed by Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Sept. 16, contained the revised implementing rules and regulations of the telecommuting law, or Republic Act No. 11165.

The revised rules were the result of almost two months of consultations with concerned sectors, the labor department said in a statement.

It added that the revised rules also passed scrutiny and had inputs from members of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, a consultative body presided by the labor secretary and composed of labor and employer representatives.

“These revised rules clarify and adequately address issues and concerns of the telecommuting sector,” Laguesma said.

The DOLE earlier said it was in favor of the continued adoption of telecommuting schemes if mutually agreed upon by employers and employees.

“To optimize the benefits of technology, the State encourages employers and employees to jointly adopt and implement telecommuting programs that are based on voluntariness and mutual consent, taking into account competencies, available technologies and resources, the nature of the work to be done and other practical circumstances,” the DOLE said.

Under the DOLE order, the terms and conditions of telecommuting “shall not be less than the minimum labor standards, and shall not in any way diminish or impair the terms or conditions of employment contained in any applicable company policy or practice.”

It also provided that the work performed in an alternative workplace will be considered as work performed in the regular workplace of the employer.

“All time that an employee is required to be on duty, and all time that an employee is permitted or suffered to work in the alternative workplace shall be counted as hours worked,” it added.

Under the revised rules, telecommuting employees are not considered field personnel except when their actual hours of work cannot be determined with reasonable certainty.

It also stressed that employers shall ensure that telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as those comparable employees working at the employer’s regular workplace.

These include rules and policies on rate of pay, night differential pay, overtime pay, authorized hours of work; right to rest days, regular holidays, and special nonworking days; and equivalent workload and performance standards those of comparable workers at the employer’s premises.