Imee Marcos files bill making work-from-home arrangement mandatory option

Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos filed a bill that requires employers to make -from-home arrangement options to be mandatory for employees.

Marcos said that since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis forced employees to shift to alternative working arrangements, now is the time to amend the law that permits telecommuting an alternative arrangement.

“Clearly, a ‘new normal’ of social distancing, new hygiene standards, and limited physical contact shall prevail in the future,” Marcos said.

Marcos wants to amend the  Republic Act No. 11165 or the “Telecommuting Act” that allows an employee to do his duties from an alternative workplace, through the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

The senator filed Senate Bill No. 1448 which would make working from home feasible mandatory option for employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not crucial for the completion of his or her tasks, and who have been working with the company for at least one year.

signed RA 11165 into law on December 20, 2018.

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“Various sectors, including the labor sector, have to make major modifications in their policy to ensure compliance with social distancing measures,” Marcos said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“This bill, thus, seeks to strengthen the Telecommuting Law by making it mandatory, and not merely optional, for employers to offer telecommuting as an alternative to employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not absolutely essential to the performance of their functions,” she further said.

The bill meanwhile requires to clearly state the eligibility of a given position for telecommuting in the contract of employment.

“Should the physical presence of the employee be necessary for a particular task, the employer may require his/her attendance in the workplace, within office hours and during weekdays, but not more than twice a week,” the amendment reads.

The bill filed by Imee Marcos, if signed into law, gives employers an option to allow their workers to -from-home but still provide them with overtime pay, leaves, and other benefits.

Marcos cited data from the Department of Health (DOH) show that as of June 23, there are 31,825 confirmed cases of infection, with 1,186 deaths recorded.