The Outsourcing Week in Review: Thursday, March 17, 2022

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Welcome to Inside Outsourcing: The Outsourcing Week in Review

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

The Philippines’ Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) rejected business process outsourcing (BPO) companies’ plea to allow them to continue with Work-From-Home (WFH) arrangements. FIRB Chairperson and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez explained that the remote working model is “only a time-bound temporary measure” and, given the high vaccination rate in the country, it is now safe for people to go back to their offices. According to  Resolution No. 19-21, BPO firms within Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) are required to have their staff report in-office beginning April 1 or risk losing their tax incentives.

Additionally, the interagency fiscal board dismissed PEZA’s request to lift Administrative Order No. 18  or the moratorium on the declaration of economic zones in Metro Manila. Dominguez noted that the moratorium was implemented to bring potential ecozone investors to rural areas in the country.

This issue is stirring quite a conversation, with election candidates releasing their opinions on FIRB’s decision. Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao said that BPO incentives are “basic common sense” as the industry helped open a lot of jobs during the height of the pandemic. He warned that the country might lose its BPO partners if the government continues to disregard their concerns — especially its work arrangements. Meanwhile, senatorial candidate Monsour Del Rosario called FIRB’s decision “too inconsiderate and cruel” as the rights of people to work remotely must be upheld and supported, especially in these challenging times. Del Rosario added that forcing the industry to return to full-time on-site work could have “more negative effects rather than good” on the Filipino workforce.

The Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva, also urged the FIRB to reconsider its decision due to the rising cost of gas and transportation prices in the Philippines. He said that the government must set a new extended deadline for remote work in BPO companies. Villanueva stated that the rise in gas prices is exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, adding that both workers and employers would bear the brunt of the order. PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza also shares the same view. In a statement, she said that hybrid work should be implemented as the country is still reeling from the pandemic, plus the “domino effect of the ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia.” Plaza disclosed that they are coordinating with the  IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) to propose three schedules to adopt the proper ratio of on-site and remote work.

Global health care outsourcing provider Optum Global Solutions is backing the calls for hybrid arrangement. In a statement, Optum Philippines Managing Director Ivic Mueco said that a hybrid work setup will allow companies to retain employees who are “not keen” to work back in an office environment. She added that the work-from-anywhere setup enables companies to tap workers from other parts of the country, extending their employment to regional areas which have a wide pool of qualified workers.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is looking into putting the whole country in Alert Level 0 following the steady decline of new COVID-19 cases. Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said that they are currently discussing the possibility and fully lifting all emergency restrictions. Currently, the National Capital Region — and 38 other areas —- is under Alert Level 1 which allows establishments to operate at full capacity provided that they follow government guidelines. To ramp up the government’s aim of achieving herd immunity, the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 rolled out  “Jabs in Job Sites,” an in-office vaccination drive for companies with a sizable number of staff. The initial push was held in Makati City and was mainly participated in by 300 employees from Teleperformance. According to Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, this initiative is made to ensure that there will be no more COVID surges in the Philippines.

In other news, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) submitted a petition regarding increasing the minimum wage of private workers in Metro Manila to P1,007 per day (US$19.25). TUCP’s petition noted that the wage hike is reasonable “since [all healthy foods] are subject to the same changes in the prices of goods and services.” Labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino is also pressing for a minimum wage adjustment from P537 per day to P750 per day (US$14.21) across the country. Reacting to this petition, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III instructed wage boards to accelerate their review of this request. Bello said that increasing oil prices could be a “compelling ground” to adjust the minimum pay of Filipino workers.

However, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III said that small and medium-sized enterprises could be faced with difficulties in meeting the current wage demands of labor groups as they are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Concepcion stated that they need time to recover from the effects of the two-year lockdown before proposing a wage hike. Currently, the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila ranges between P500 and P537 daily (US$9.56 to US$10.26).

The digital shift — pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic — could open more tech-related job opportunities to the Philippines. According to Philip Gioca, Country Manager of employment website JobStreet PhilippinesIT and digital-related jobs, as well as BPO professionals will be in high demand post-pandemic. Gioca added that employees will be more productive with a hybrid work environment as organizations respond, redesign, and reinvent their business models to the “next normal.”

Makati City is shooting to be the Philippines’ homegrown version of Silicon Valley as the Department of Trade and Industry – Board of Investments (DTI-BOI) and the Resilience Innovation Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (RISE) Certification Program collaborate to transform it into a high technology and innovation hub in the country. This is part of DTI-BOI’s  Innovative Cities initiative which aims to “tech up” one city at a time. The move is in response to the capital region’s low ranking in the latest Global Startup Ecosystem Index (GSEI).

The future is now!

 

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

NEWS THIS WEEK

 

16 March 2022

15 March 2022

14 March 2022

  • PH gov’t to fully lift emergency restrictions soon – read article…
  • Senate labor committee backs BPO’s call for WFH extension – read article…
  • Gov’t rolls out in-office vaccination drive, BPO office among first to benefit – read article..
  • PH GDP to shrink if energy crisis persists – read article..

11 March 2022

  • Optum backs hybrid work calls of BPO sector – read article…
  • Senatorial candidate urge gov’t to rethink “cruel and inconsiderate” WFH deadline – read article…
  • PH now the 2nd leading country with most women investors – IPOPHL – read article…
  • Converge experiences security breach – read article…

10 March 2022

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