Gov’t urged to revoke new WFH arrangements for BPOs
With most of its workers still scared to leave home, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is asking the government to reconsider a directive requiring call centers to have at least 10 percent of employees present in the office or else lose their tax breaks.
“This directive poses a problem because a number of employees are understandably hesitant to report to work because of the surge in the number of infections and the overcapacity [in] hospitals in case they get infected by the virus,” said Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) Director General Charito Plaza, who echoed the appeal of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), in a statement.
The Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, issued a rule on work-from-home (WFH) arrangements in a memo earlier this month, saying a suspension, withdrawal or cancellation of tax incentives would be meted out to companies that do not follow. The memo said BPO firms in economic zones should not have more than 90 percent of their workforce under a WFH arrangement, which in effect required 10 percent to be present in the office. This ruling would apply until March next year.
Noting that the industry still managed to increase its revenues and workforce last year despite the pandemic, Peza said BPO firms should keep their tax breaks for as long as not more than 90 percent of their revenues come from WFH arrangements.
Compared to what the FIRB wanted, which bases the WFH arrangement on the number of employees in the office, this would allow BPO firms to be more flexible with their operations.
In the same statement, IBPAP also asked for a reconsideration while appealing for the government to be more lenient in cases of violations.
It called for “a fair treatment, considering that any breach that might happen would only be due to compelling circumstances such as putting the health and safety of employees as more paramount.” INQ
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