AS the industry of information technology -business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) in the Philippines grows continuously, employees’ welfare and protection should also be ensured.
This was the call of Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas as he is pushing for the approval of the House Bill 5728 or “An Act Ensuring the Rights, Welfare and Safety of the Workers in the IT-BPO Industry in the Philippines.”
The IT-BPO Rights, Welfare and Safety Act is now pending before the House Committee on Labor and Employment.
Vargas is fully supporting the industry as he is urging the government to ensure that the 1.2 million employees is protected by strengthening their rights and also their welfare particularly their health condition.
In 2017, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the BPO industry had generated revenue of $24.5 billion, up on the $22.9 billion earned in 2016.
With this economic growth, Vargas said it is just proper for the government to promote and enhance the working conditions, terms of employment, professional growth, and career development of employees.
“To ensure that the Philippines and its people can fully reap and enjoy the economic benefits given by the IT-BPO sector, it is just necessary to give our workers all the support and protection,” Vargas, Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said.
In the proposed measure, there should be no understaffing or overloading of work to ensure that employees will not be pressured since most of the jobs are done at night.
Citing study of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines and International Labor Org, Vargas said the nature of night-shift work is the primary cause why many IT-BPO workers leave the industry.
Moreover, this particular peculiarity of the BPO industry is also cause for workers’ sleep disorders, fatigue, eye strain, voice and hearing problems, and psychological stress.
“These issues must be addressed to uplift the welfare and morale of the IT-BPO workers which will in turn, ensure the continuous growth of the industry in the Philippines,” Vargas added.
The bill states that BPO companies must not overwork the employee or over extend his services beyond what is specified in the government contract.
If overtime is necessary or needed, employees must be paid accordingly, the bill said.
Likewise, the bill provides that all IT-BPO shall be considered regular employees upon the completion of their six months of employment as a trainer or apprentice or upon the completion of a maximum probationary training period of six months.
The bill should also serve as a reminder to the companies of their obligation to follow the night differential rates to compensate the hard work of the employees.
Vargas added that the government should ensure the Holiday Pay if employees report to work during holidays.
Likewise, the bill clearly states that BPO employees are entitled to vacation and sick leave benefits.
On the other hand, since the work done at night has effects on health, the bill states that companies should provide employees appropriate medical insurance and benefits.
“Our employees must be treated in a humane manner and without prejudice. They must be entitled to free medical examinations and provided with medical benefits,” he added.
Lastly, Vargas proposed that employees should be protected from discrimination by reason of sexual orientation, age, political or religious beliefs, civil status, pregnancy, physical characteristics or disability.
“While the Philippines is conducive to the outsourcing industry, let us also make sure that the working place and conditions are conducive to the Filipino people,” he said.
-April 09, 2018