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BPOs willing to lose incentives to retain WFH for workers

According to the 1,400-member Alliance of Call Center Workers (ACW), at least four BPO companies are willing to lose their fiscal incentives if it meant retaining their workers. A poll done by the group revealed that 157 of their members are mulling resignation from their jobs if the work-from-home (WFH) or work-from-anywhere (WFX) scheme will no longer be allowed, 117 are undecided, and 37 members indicated that they will stay in their work even if they have to go back to their offices.

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Earlier, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) decided via Resolution 19-21 to allow up to 90 percent of the IT-BPO workforce to avail the WFH setup until March 31, 2022. While Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez clarified that employees who refuse to report physically should not be terminated, it appears that BPO workers are intending to find work elsewhere if the “back to office” scheme holds.

“There is a significant number of workers who are willing to resign,” ACW co-convenor Emman David told reporters in a virtual press briefing on Thursday. “But this should not be taken as a sign of protest [to the FIRB’s decision], rather it is a sign of inconvenience.”

“BPO employees when they are working from home they buy from their ‘suki,’ from the ‘palengke,’ and that’s an MSME. Whereas in our offices, we are not buying from MSMEs. If we’re in BGC, we are buying from the businesses who can afford to pay rent in BGC which is not affordable for MSMEs,” he added.

Mitch Locsin, PLDT First Vice President and Enterprise Revenue Group Head, said the Philippines will not only see higher attrition rates in the BPO industry but it may also lose its competitiveness because of other countries that have adopted the WFH arrangement as part of the new normal for their BPO industries.

Citing the case of the United States, Locsin said employees now prefer WFH, especially if the nature of their work allows them to do so. Locsin added that employees in the US are now “demanding” that employers either allow them to continue working from home or they would find another job that allows this.

Based on ACW’s data, over one million BPO workers currently have work-from-home arrangements with their employers. The IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), meanwhile, estimated that more or less 60 percent of their employees have worked from home in 2021.

IBPAP earlier proposed three hybrid work arrangements for the BPO industry implemented in staggered phases: 60 percent (onsite)-40 percent (WFH), 40 percent (onsite)-60 percent (WFH) or an equal 50-50 percent share for onsite and WFH arrangement. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is reportedly coordinating with IBPAP to campaign for FIRB’s consideration of permitting a hybrid work scheme.

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Avatar for Arius Lauren Raposas

A public servant with a heart for actively supporting technology and futures thinking, responding accordingly to humanity's needs and goals, increasing participation of people in issues concerning them, upholding rights and freedoms, and striving further to achieve more despite our limited capacities. In everything, to God be all the glory.

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