MANILA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Philippine officials expressed hope on Friday that a law, which allows private sector employees to "telecommute" or work from home, will help ease traffic congestion in the country.
Philippine presidential office on Thursday released "An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector (Telecommuting Act)" which has been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to the "Telecommuting Act", telecommuting is defined as "a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies" and will be protected by the law.
The Philippine government official said that the law aims to promote work-life balance and address traffic congestion and its effect on the country's economy.
"Telecommuting as a work arrangement is fast becoming the new norm with the Filipino labor market starting to open up with alternative avenues in view of computer technologies," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Friday.
With its full implementation, Panelo said the government is "optimistic that this arrangement can also contribute to easing the traffic conditions in Metro Manila and in other urban areas."
Panelo said the law would "give fair treatment to telecommuting employees in the private sector who can now work from home or any place outside the employers' premises, and still be given the same treatment and entitlements as those employees physically working at the offices."
Philippine Senator Emmanuel Villanueva, the principal author and sponsor of the law, said the work-from-home program is optional and depends on the mutual agreement between workers and employers.
The law has "enough safeguards" for home-based workers such as equal pay, leave benefits and promotion, Villanueva added.
"With this recently signed law, we can now have a stable and consistent legal framework that can provide an enabling environment to encourage participation and enforce compliance among enterprises, big or small," Villanueva said in a statement.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of the Philippines is tasked to create the guidelines on the rate of pay, rest periods, holidays, access to training and career development, and the like.
The law also has provisions on a telecommuting pilot program of up to three years in select industries and on the watch of the DOLE.
The traffic congestion is recently spreading through the urban areas in the Philippines, which is the result of a rapidly growing of private vehicles, inadequate infrastructures and underdevelopment of public transportation.
Commuters in the Philippines, mostly workers, spend up to four hours per day on the road commuting or going to and from an office. With a long commute, commuters have less time to take care of their health and families.