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July 13, 2013

House Bill 1180: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

On the latter part of my report, I mentioned that although the provisions under the House Bill 1180 are aimed at improving the work environment of BPO workers, there are some things that I feel like are a little bit over the top. In this segment, we’re gonna take a closer look at the bill’s key proposals and share with you my thoughts about it.

Just so everybody’s on the same page, here are the proposals under the HB 1180 that we’re taking a closer look at:

1. Regularization of all BPO workers upon the sixth month of employment as trainee or apprentice, or upon the completion of a maximum probationary training period of six months.
2. Standardized restroom breaks not shorter than five minutes each, with intervals of two hours during their working hours.
3. Entitlement to medical benefits upon entry in the BPO company and not merely upon regularization.
4. Right to Self-Association, to engage in Collective Bargaining, and to participate in Democratic Exercises.

Regularization of all BPO workers upon the sixth month of employment as trainee or apprentice, or upon the completion of a maximum probationary training period of six months.

To be honest, I was surprised to see the this on the list, because all the while I thought that by default an employee should be regularized on his/her 6th month of employment. That is, of course, if he/she met the goals set by the company stated on the employment contract and has not violated any grave offense during his/her stay in the company.

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In all of the BPO companies that I’ve worked for, I am happy to report that all of them have this one in place. But the fact that it’s on the list gives me an impression that not all companies comply to this or the Party list just want to make it official. Either way, I think that it should be the protocol for all companies, not only for BPO companies.

Standardized restroom breaks not shorter than five minutes each, with intervals of two hours during their working hours.

If passed, the bill gives BPO employees another 20 minutes (minimum, might be even more) worth of off-the-phone time on top of the accumulated an hour and a half meant for lunch and two 15-minute breaks. That extra 20 minutes may not be that big of deal to some, but in an industry where every second counts, 20 minutes is huge.

I don’t know about you, but of the four, I think this one’s probably the least favorite of mine. Don’t get me wrong here, I know for a fact that break times are a crucial part of work and I’d be a hypocrite if I say that I didn’t enjoy extra time-offs when I was taking in calls. However, it was when I moved up the ranks that I realized that absences, lates and over-breaks (regardless of the length) have a huge impact on the overall productivity of the team and the account as a whole.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we also have to look at the business side of things and not limit ourselves with our personal needs. If I have a say in this bill, I’d suggest that instead of 5 minutes bathroom break every two hours, they can propose to extend the first and last break from 15 to 20 minutes. But even that is a bit of a stretch if you ask me, but certainly not as ridiculous as theirs.

Entitlement to medical benefits upon entry in the BPO company and not merely upon regularization.

Apart from the competitive salary, another thing that lured Pinoys (particularly those who have dependents) to jump aboard the BPO bandwagon is the medical benefits they get through a company-provided health card. Some companies provide their employees with a health card as soon as they start, while others prefer to wait until an employee becomes regularized.

And while I don’t have anything against this proposal, I’m afraid that some employees might misuse this privilege if and when the House Bill materializes. I’m not gonna go into the details ofthe act, but it has a bad effect on both the BPO company and health card provider.

Right to Self-Association, to engage in Collective Bargaining, and to participate in Democratic Exercises.

Just like in other industries, I think BPO workers should have the right to form a union and be able to participate in activities wherein they can voice out their concerns. Therefore, I think it’s great that Kabataan included this as one of the key proposals under the HB 1180.

Conclusion

As far as the four principal proposals of the House Bill 1180 is concerned, I personally think that it’ll significantly improve the working environment of BPO employees here in our country.

However, as I pointed out earlier, it’s also important to consider the impact of some of these proposals on the BPO industry. I fear that if we pushed things a bit too far, then these companies might be forced to take their business elsewhere, leaving more than quarter of a million Pinoys jobless.

As a previous BPO employee, I understand that there are concerns that need to be addressed and having such bill is the first step to resolving these issues. But honestly speaking, I think that most BPO workers are already enjoying benefits and amenities that employees from other line of work can only dream of. And the worse part, not only are they not getting even the most basic benefits such as SSS, PhilHeath and Pag-Ibig, most of them are even underpaid.

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23 Responses to “House Bill 1180: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

  1. 10g says:

    Factory workers need more focus and assistance from the government. What is the difference of graveyard shift BPO agent against night shift factory worker? I feel that this kabataan party list doesnt consider workers majority…pampapogi lang. Hoy malayo pa eleksyon!

  2. Iyan Sommerset
    Twitter: iyansommerset
    says:

    #4 will be a negative on the side of the BPOs – the main reason why American companies are doing business in other countries is because they’re shit-scared of local unions stateside. If you’ve been following US politics the past few years, one of the (albeit lesser-popularized) schemes of the republican party has been to limit the power of unions (denying them collective bargaining rights, cutting potential funding, etc.). #4 will definitly scare right-leaning businesses away from the country.

    • booboo says:

      That’s right. Actually kaya malakas ang BPO dito kasi bawal mag organize ng union ang employees in BPO. Isa yan sa mga agreements noon, tapos aalisin? Good luck. Goodbye Philippines, Hello India. haha.

  3. yellow says:

    Sir Bulaong mejo mali po ata kayo sa computation nyo ng 20 mins n bio break. “the bill gives BPO employees another 20 minutes” – tinging ko po mga 15 minutes lang po yan kc first 2 hours then bio break, next two hours then bio break and then another 2 hours before the last bio break. Ung last po na bio break e uwian na ata un, tama po b ako? this is based on an 8 hour shift db?

    • Ronnie Bulaong
      Twitter: TuronBulaong
      says:

      Let’s say an employee’s shift starts at 9:00PM and ends at 6:00AM. If we follow the proposal’s two-hour interval then the first 5-minute “bio break” should be at around 11PM, the second will be at 1:05AM, the next will be at 3:10AM and the last one should be at 5:15AM. That’s 4 5-minute “bio breaks” in an 8-hour shift sans the 1-hour unpaid lunch break.

  4. tmcr7 says:

    Most of the provisions are already existing in our current laws. No need for redundant laws specially made for call center agents. Just implement existing ones.

  5. Reader says:

    When I read that most of the provisions of the bill are extremely slanted towards the workers and are anti-business, it didn’t surprise me that it was filed by COMMUNISTS posturing as a partylist group in Congress. The next thing you know, they’d file a bill that would make it legal for them to spray red paint all over the country, toss away usable furniture, and rally in front of the US embassy without a permit.

    • pas says:

      i agree, these communist disguising as partylist are killing the business here (communist nga eh). Kung matuloy to especially yung 3$, lilipat na ang mga BPO sa India, lalong mawawalan ng trabaho mga tao dito.

    • pas says:

      I mean yung #4

    • hani says:

      kung pag-aaralan ang bill na ginawa nila. kung para sa workers sobrang ganda nito, kung para sa mga negosyante… hindi win-win solution kasi maraming bansa ang pwedeng maging option if maghigpit ang pilipinas. di maganda ito…

  6. exe says:

    Yuga, a lot of companies has 1 hour break. 20 more minutes wont hurt you. I used to work for an account with no breaks at all for we need to monitor the tickets and not miss that 15 min SLA. our meals should be eaten while we work. Its not good working on pressure and an empty tummy everyday.

    • Miss Call says:

      “This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong…”

    • OMD says:

      @exe 20 more minutes won’t hurt you? It’s pretty obvious that you don’t any idea about managing the call center business. Some account’s pricing are based on PPM (Price Per Minute) where every minute counts – now do the math for a PPM Account’s loss with 500 FTEs if you implement a daily additional 20 mins CR break. Not to mention the added pressure in maintaining/managing schedule adherence.

  7. tech.hobbyist says:

    @10g, Kabataan Partylist was established by youth orgs na may ginagawa na kahit hindi pa tumatakbo sa election. Check mo website nila para sa ibang bills para sa ibang sectors.
    @reader dapat lang ‘slanted’ sa workers ng bpo kasi nga representative sila ng Kabataan, na karamihan ay nasa bpo nagtatrabaho. May mga study na mas maganda ang workplace, mas productive and efficient ang mga tao, hence mas kikita ang mga companies. Tapos, nakakapagod na yang red tagging ninyo, ang article ay tungkol sa bpo bill.

    • Reader says:

      It doesn’t change the fact the Kabataan is a COMMUNIST group. At the end of the day, they’d be happy kicking out foreigner-owned, legitimate businesses. Mind you, I’m sure they don’t even have a plan for those who are going to lose their jobs because of it. And what will they do next? Stage a rally like hooligans? My thoughts exactly. :)

  8. metre9dmt says:

    this bill will never pass…3rd time this was filed by a party-list group…there was no mentioned that BPO management was consulted…pag-usapan, huwag kalimutan ang management else walang mangyayari sa bill na ito kundi matulog sa floor deliberations…how about creating a BPO cooperative? Just asking…

  9. ronjiedotcom
    Twitter: ronjiedotcom
    says:

    Parang hilaw ang arguments. Pero ang nakikita ko dito ay yung #4 lang ang gusto talaga nila ipasok. Is it bad for business? Well, dapat umayaw tayo sa business na hindi papakiggan ang pangangailangan ng manggagawa. Mas importante ba ang suweldo kesa ang dignidad? Babaw.

    • ronjiedotcom
      Twitter: ronjiedotcom
      says:

      “Makakasama ang #3 pero hindi ko na i-explain. Maniwala na lang kayo. Eh ang haba na nitong article e, nakakapagod na.”

  10. elie says:

    nakakatawa naman.. mas natatakot pa ang tao mawala yung mga investor kesa bigyan ng proteksyon at tamang kompensasyon ang mga kapwa pilipino. huwag kayo mag-alala mas gusto ng mga BPO/Investors sa pilipinas pag outsourcing, mas fluent tayo sa english. saka kung sakaling umalis sila saan sila pupunta? sa INDIA? LOL

  11. roiji says:

    government employees are not automatically regularized upon passing the 6th month/probationary period.
    especially when they are hired as “JO”/job order — special hiring of people to fulfill a specific task like scanning documents, admin aides, photocopy archive, typing archives, typically clerical work.

    it is up to the supervisor to hire them directly or just extend their job order…

    my friend was working as a job order for 4 years without “regularization”..

  12. Joe Bulls says:

    I have a question for you? Do you know how much a certain call center earns at the end of the year?
    Before you say , … “then these companies might be forced to take their business elsewhere, leaving more than quarter of a million Pinoys jobless”
    Do you know how big their share on our national tax earned?

    It is clear that you have not done your research before you gave your 2 cents on this matter. Be responsible manager…

  13. Joe Bulls says:

    I have a question for you? Do you know how much a certain call center earns at the end of the year?
    Before you say , … “then these companies might be forced to take their business elsewhere, leaving more than quarter of a million Pinoys jobless”
    Do you know how big their share on our national tax earnings?

    It is clear that you have not done your research before you gave your 2 cents on this matter. Be responsible manager…

    One call center just earned 200M based on SEC.., if one call center can provide a health card on the spot after you get hired, then there is no reason that another bpo company can’t provide his employees with a health insurance on his employees upon hiring.
    A 20 minute extra break will definitely not hurt the pocket of your company, it would just probably cost you 200k a yr opportunity loss, take note… not loss but opportunity.

    • Ronnie Bulaong
      Twitter: TuronBulaong
      says:

      Keyword: Might be.

      You have a good point, but why so much hate dude?
      You know, you can always express your opinion/s without being condescending. :D

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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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