Senate bill to allow WFH for ecozone, freeport locators

A BILL allowing work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for registered business enterprises in economic zones (ecozones) and freeports without loss of tax and fiscal incentives has been filed in the Senate.

Senate Bill 135, or the Work-from-Home in Ecozones bill, seeks to amend Republic Act 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE). It effectively allows companies, from the Information Technology- Business Process Management sector located in ecozones, to adopt a WFH set-up.

Temporary authorization to offer ecozone employees hybrid work is due to expire in September.

Under the CREATE law, a project or activity registered with an investment promotion agency must be conducted inside an ecozone. Activities conducted outside such zones are ineligible for incentives.

“Many of our compatriots who have experienced the work-from-home setup are now choosing to resign from their jobs because of the cost in time, money and effort if they are forced to work on-site,” the bill’s author, Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said.

He cited data from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines indicating that the WFH arrangement facilitated the creation of 23,000 new jobs in 2020 and 100,000 new jobs in 2021, with revenue rising 12% in 2021 to P1.5 trillion.

“Adaptability has helped our country survive this pandemic, and we must ensure that flexibility emanates from our laws in light of the rapid technological developments and global best practices,” Mr. Villanueva said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan