Peza urges locators: Heed return to office

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) on Tuesday urged business-process outsourcing (BPO) locators to abide by the return-to-office rule by April 1 to avoid any penalties as stipulated by existing laws.

In a statement, Peza Director General Charito Plaza appealed to locators to “adhere” to the Fiscal

Incentives Review Board’s (FIRB) decision to not extend the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for BPO locators in the country beyond March 31.

“The allowance of the 90:10 WFH [work-from-home] set-up was just a temporary measure during the pandemic. Now that we’re reopening the economy, we’re going back to the regular ratio required of registered business enterprises [RBEs] inside the ecozones,” Plaza said.

Plaza reiterated that Peza supports the proposal of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) “to implement a hybrid work scheme for the IT-BPO sector.”

She stressed, “We hear the concerns of our investors and their individual workers affected by this order; however, we need to follow the regulations as mandated by the law.

“Hence, Peza abides by the decision of the FIRB for 100-percent on-site work for IT-BPOs, while there is a need to review and establish a legal framework in order to implement a hybrid work model.”

Plaza noted that the Peza law “requires that all registered companies operate within the ecozones in order to enjoy tax incentives.”

“At present, Peza cannot change the ratio unless the laws will be amended to incorporate the adaptation of the hybrid schemes. In the future, we hope to follow the practice of India and the other countries and provide specific ratios on WFH and on-site work arrangements,” she said.

“Peza supports the hybrid work scheme as it’s been proven effective in the last three years of pandemic. What we can do is to recommend this for the next administration to address. As of now, we have to abide by the existing laws and the decision of the FIRB and help to put the economy back to normal,” she added.

Last week, Peza disclosed that it was pushing for the adoption of a WFH arrangement for the IT and BPO industries until the end of the year. Plaza explained that they support the hybrid WFH arrangement for the IT and BPO industries due to the recent spike in fuel prices that made transportation more costly for workers.

“The pandemic is not yet over although we are now in Alert Level 1,” she said.

“The IT-BPOs invested during the pandemic for the equipment and enabling their workers to do WFH in a way that going back to 100 percent onsite should not be a sudden and immediate move; and adopting WFH also has benefits for decongesting traffic,” she added. 

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