Lawmakers push for ‘work from home’ policy in light of COVID-19 spread

Do you think this will help?
by Leandre Grecia | Mar 11, 2020
PHOTO: Leandre Grecia

Amid the spread of COVID-19 in Metro Manila, medical professionals keep reminding us that this is no time to panic—it’ll only do more harm than good. But of course, exercising extra caution will go a long way.

Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a nationwide state of public health emergency as well as a week-long suspension of classes in Metro Manila in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases reported in the country. Now, lawmakers are urging private entities to implement telecommuting or ‘work from home’ arrangements in order to keep employees safe while maintaining productivity.

Senator Joel Villanueva, principal author of Republic Act No. 11165 otherwise known as the Telecommuting Act, stressed that companies can help mitigate the impact of the economic slowdown that has resulted from this state of public health emergency by allowing part of their workforce to work remotely.

“Telecommuting allows organizations to maintain a level of productivity as we wait out for diseases like COVID-19 to taper off. The last thing we want to happen is that we become paralyzed with fear of the disease,” said Villanueva. “If everything comes to a full stop, the economic gains we have been enjoying in the last 10 years will be put to waste.

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“We continue to encourage our friends in the private sector to consider telecommuting as a viable alternative to maintain their productivity while protecting their workers from COVID-19.”

Villanueva also cited some examples wherein private corporations have implemented telecommuting in response to the current situation, and called upon the Department of Labor and Employment to continue its efforts to encourage other companies to do the same.

In a separate statement, Davao Oriental Second District Representative Mayo Almario emphasized that the reduction of traffic in the city is only one among the Telecommuting Act’s many objectives. “In addition to the law’s intent, it becomes even more important now more than ever because of emergency health situations the country is currently facing,” Almario said.

“We can all do our share in protecting our workers from the disease by minimizing their risk of getting infected. The least we can do now is to avoid public places such as public transportation terminals where social distancing can be tough to practice,” added Villanueva.

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At the moment, this proposal seems more sensible than the suggested lockdown of Metro Manila to contain the virus. What say you, workers—especially commuters—from the metro? Do you agree with these lawmakers’ sentiments?

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PHOTO: Leandre Grecia
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