A LEGISLATOR is planning to meet this month with business process outsourcing (BPO) firms and tax officials to assist in forging a compromise over the Fiscal Incentives Review Board’s (FIRB) recent order to stop work-from-home arrangements by April.

“I think the compromise is, okay, on-site work is back, but arrangements can be made for those who went home to the provinces, are immunocompromised, or have special conditions that prevent them from working on-site,” Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement on Friday.

“I want unified guidelines from the FIRB, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) about what arrangements can be made.”

Mr. Salceda said he also wants to gauge the tax leakage that the FIRB is concerned about.

“Some BPO firms may be saving a lot of money from not having to rent spaces or pay utilities,” Mr. Salceda said. “And that could be skewing the cost-benefit analysis for tax incentives, meaning we are getting less economic activities for the same tax perks.”

Nonetheless, BPO companies, he said, could adopt internal arrangements since DoLE has said workers cannot be fired for not reporting on-site if they are able to deliver output.

He also expressed support to the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) proposal of having a four-day work week such that BPO employees could work on-site for four days and work from home on other days.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the government issued a policy that allows BPO companies to get tax incentives even if 90% of their employees are working from home. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan

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