After months of dillydallying, the Philippines government has finally begun to reverse labor policy, allowing call center firms operating in its special economic zones (SEZ) to carry on with remote-working arrangements.
Under the new system, BPOs can have up to 30% of their employees working from home. But the new regulations will last only until September this year. It is not clear whether the government will amend the country’s Telephone Act before the deadline expires.
“As long as our ecozone locators doing hybrid work are complying with the minimum 70% export sales and minimum 70% on-site report by their workers, they are [and should be] entitled to enjoy our tax incentives,” stated Tereso O. Panga, Deputy Director-General of PEZA in a press release.
The concession has indeed brought much-needed relief for BPOs, most of which are located in SEZs because of generous tax and rental incentives. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 90% of BPO workers in the country worked from home.
The agency has often argued in support of BPO firms, which have been demanding a change in the country’s regulations on remote working. But the government has often seen unwilling to offer special concessions.
“The hybrid work model is also being practiced worldwide,” says PEZA, adding that “recognizing and adapting to this global trend is needed to maintain the country’s competitiveness.”
Companies in economic zones have created more than a million jobs in the country, representing over US$15 billion in export revenue.