wfh_what_you_need_to_know

Work From Home: What you need to know.

Date: 10 July 2020

With the current pandemic still raging in our country especially in Metro Manila, a lot of companies have switched from onsite operations to employees working from home where possible. This, of course, conjured up a lot of questions both from the employees and the employers alike. We would try to answer some of them here.

 

What is work from home?

Work from home is a term used to describe an arrangement whereby an employee shall continue to render work for the employer at the employee’s home or some other location. It is a term that can be interchanged with telecommuting which is defined in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 11165 (Telecommuting Act) as “a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.” Simply put, work from home or telecommuting is where an employee renders work at a place other than the office provided for by the employer.

 

During this pandemic, is the employer required to allow work from home?

No. The employer is not required to let its employees to work from home. The Telecommuting Act merely gives the employer the option to offer a telecommuting or work from home program to its employees. In no way does the law require the employer to allow its employees to work from home. Such a decision remains to be subject to the prerogative of the employer. In fact, even the Department of Labor of Employment in Labor Advisory No. 11 conceded as much. It said that “As better alternatives to outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishments, flexible work arrangements xxx including, but not limited to, other work arrangements, such as telecommuting, work from home, reduction of workdays/hours, rotation of workers and forced leaves, are hereby reiterated and highly encouraged in establishments that continue to operate.”

 

Would working under a telecommuting or work from home arrangement have the same terms and conditions as if I were working at the office?

It depends. Section 4 of the Telecommuting Law provides that “the employer may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon.” Clearly, the terms and conditions of telecommuting or work from home shall be subject to an agreement of the employer and the employees. This however does not mean that it would be lower than the terms and conditions set by law. Section 4 of the same law continues “Provided, That (sic) such terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law, and shall include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits. In all cases, the employer shall provide the telecommuting employee with relevant written information in order to adequately apprise the individual of the terms and conditions of the telecommuting program, and responsibilities of the employee.”

The law says that it is voluntary, does that mean an employee can refuse a telecommuting or work from home arrangement?

Yes. The employee may refuse to participate in a telecommuting or work from home arrangement considering that the law states that it is voluntary. The alternative would be to report to the office or when the office is closed, be on leave. Clearly then, if the employee refuses, s/he does so at his/her peril considering that with the current pandemic, employers would rather that the employees who can work from home or telecommute do so rather than report at the office.

 

How would the employer check the attendance of employees who are telecommuting or working from home?

The employer may adapt measures or procedures in order to check the attendance of its employees. Failure of an employee to follow such measures or procedures may be a violation of company policy for which sanctions may be imposed, after due process of course.

 

Are the company policies applicable for employees telecommuting or working from home?

It depends. In general, company policies are still applicable even in telecommuting or work from home arrangements. However, concededly, there are company policies that are applicable only in an office setting. Such company policies are not applicable for employees on telecommuting or work from home arrangements.

 

Can telecommuting or work from home arrangements be implemented together with other working arrangements?

Yes. The employer has the prerogative to implement multiple alternative working arrangements at the same time. For example, the employer may implement telecommuting or work from home arrangements and reduced workdays/hours. The employer may also make telecommuting or work from home arrangements only applicable to certain employees with other employees covered by a different working arrangement.

In no way is this list exhaustive. The above questions and answers are the basic information one needs to begin to understand telecommuting and work from home arrangements. In the end, the terms and conditions of such alternative work arrangement is left to the agreement of both the employer and the employee.

 

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only. It should not be taken as a legal advice or be used a basis for legal action or defense.