February 24, 2024

Villar files bill seeking protection of BPO workers 

GOVERNMENT needs to ensure the safety and welfare of the workforce of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country, which has become one of the top drivers of the economy, Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar has highlighted in her proposed House Bill No. 9342. 

The measure, or the proposed BPO Workers’ Welfare and Protection Act of 2023, mandates the fair and kind-hearted treatment of all workers in the outsourcing industry. 

She noted that the Philippine government has offered a wide range of privileges to BPO companies, among them tax perks and incentives, to attract more investments in the sector and to keep the country’s status as a top outsourcing destination for global investors. 

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines has said the industry’s workforce could reach 1.7 million and revenue hit $35.9 billion  or P2 trillion this year. 

“With the importance of the BPO industry in the Philippine economy, it is but fitting to establish standards to ensure the safety, well-being and rights of employees working in the BPO sector. BPO workers, who are often working night shift hours and sacrificing their health and time for their families, need protections like occupational health and safety, work-life balance, fair compensation, anti-discrimination, medical and health benefits, transportation perks, and right to self-organization,” Villar said. 

She stressed: “It is imperative to treat the BPO worker in a just and humane manner and ensure that all the rights and benefits of BPO workers are provided for and accorded to them as mandated by the Labor Code. Abusive language, physical violence or any act which debases the dignity of a person shall not be used against the employee.” 

Under the lawmaker’s proposed bill, BPO companies are prohibited from compelling an employee to pay a company bond and to impose an unreasonable or exorbitant fee to be paid by the employee upon leaving the company before a specified length of time or before the end of her contract. 

All workers of the BPO industry shall be protected from discrimination by reason of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, color, religion, political, or other opinion, national, social, or geographical origin, disability, property, birth, civil status, pregnancy, physical characteristics or disability, or other status as established by human rights standards. 

They shall be considered as regular workers after completion of the six-month probationary, training or apprenticeship period. Their normal work hours shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day, and they shall render work for not more than six (6) consecutive days per week. They cannot be terminated except for just and authorized causes as provided under the Labor Code. 

Any BPO company which will be found guilty of violating the prohibitions states in the measure shall be punished with a fine of not less than P100,000 and/or imprisonment of not less than two (2) months but not more than one (1) year, or both, at the discretion of the court. 

“Kailangan nating pangalagaan ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan, na nagta-trabaho sa mga BPO companies nang sa gayun ay masiguro natin ang patuloy ng paglago ng industriya. Higit sa ano pa man, kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawa ang pangunahing responsibilidad ng pamahalaan,” Villar said.