A "significant number" of workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are considering resignation if the government will not extend their current work-from-home setup, the Alliance of Call Center Workers (ACW) warned on March 24.
ACW aired its concerns after the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) rejected appeals to extend the current remote work arrangements that BPO companies enforced at the surge of the pandemic.
The board refused the plea because the remote work arrangement was intended to be "a time-bound temporary measure," Finance Secretary and FIRB Chairman Carlos Dominguez III said during a recent meeting.
"The employees’ return to the office would provide more opportunities and pave the way for the recovery of local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that depend on IT-BPM employees for their livelihood," he added.
Because of this, employees have to work on-site beginning April 1, or else the companies would lose incentives such as tax breaks.
"There's a significant number of workers na willing na mag-resign," ACW representative Emman David said in a virtual press conference.
David added that this "mass resignation" would be a result of employees finding difficulty in transitioning to on-site work, not in protest.
"Marami nang bumalik sa probinsya, marami na ang nag-give up ng living arrangements sa Metro Manila, tapos kung babalik ka sa office, kailangan mo uling mangupahan," he said.
ACW co-convenor Lara Melencio also appealed to the FIRB to reconsider its order. "Bigyan naman kami ng choice, Ultimately, kami naman din ang mahihirapan pag pinabalik kami sa office," the 10-year call center veteran said. "Pag na-traffic ako, 30 minutes agad yan."
She also brought up how the nature of the BDO industry is remote since most clients and customers are abroad. "We can work anywhere as long as we have our devices, internet connection, and electricity. It has been working for the last two years, so bakit pa kami pababalikin?" Melencio remarked.
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino president and senatorial candidate Luke Espiritu expressed his support for the ACW, saying BPO workers are not asking for much.
“They are not asking for a permanent work-from-home setup, just extend the setup; is it too much to ask? That’s what the companies also asked for,” he said.
In a poll done by ACW, which has some 1,400 member workers from various firms, 156 individuals said they will resign if WFH setup will no longer be allowed, 117 are undecided, while 37 said they will stay.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority recently appealed to FIRB for the extension of the remote work scheme but was denied. At least four to six BPO companies also said they are willing to forego tax perks over losing workers.