By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian encouraged more government agencies, even those in the private sector, to engage in flexible work arrangements to save fuel and transportation costs and improve the quality of life of employees.
“Our office may look empty for some but we’re practicing work from home arrangement to save on gas, avoid traffic congestion, save time, and eliminate daily commutes,” Gatchalian explained, adding that employers can benefit as well due to cost savings.
“This is the new normal and working remotely can prove to be as productive as those working in an office setting. Malaking kaluwagan ito lalo na sa panahon ngayong aabot na sa isang daang piso kada litro ang produktong petrolyo at tumataas ang pamasahe. Dumarami na rin ngayon ang hindi bumibiyaheng pampublikong sasakyan dahil sa walang habas na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis,” said Gatchalian.
Even before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a resolution allowing flexible work arrangements in government offices, Gatchalian noted that working from home has already been adopted by some companies in the private sector.
Under Republic Act No. 11165, otherwise known as the “Telecommuting Act”, an employer in the private sector may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon.
In order to promote the flexible work arrangement, Gatchalian intends to pursue the legislation of his proposed tax incentives for employees on a work-from-home or telecommuting program and income tax deduction for employers.
Senate Bill No. 1706, co-authored by Gatchalian, proposes a reduction of P25.00 from the taxable income of an employee for every hour of work rendered under a WFH arrangement. He also proposed to make non-taxable the allowances and other benefits of employees covering expenses necessary for telecommuting, not exceeding P2,000 per month.
Employers, for their part, may claim an additional 50 percent income tax deduction for allowances granted within the specified ceiling, the senator said.
Such provision is aimed at encouraging employers to provide much needed allowances to their employees while the proposed tax deductions for workers will effectively increase the take-home pay of employees, he added. (ai/mtvn)