Davao City – Following the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act Nos. 11210 and 11165, a learning session was conducted by the Department of Labor Employment Region XI with the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC)  on the 105-day Expanded Maternity Leave and Telecommuting Acts on July 11, 2019.

Chief for BWC-Policy and Program Development Division Nicanor V. Bon, explained during the session that the establishment of Republic Act No. 11210 otherwise known as the “Act Increasing the Maternity Leave Period to One Hundred Five (105) Days for Female Workers with an Option to Extend for an Additional Thirty (30) Days Without Pay, and Granting an Additional Fifteen (15) Days for Solo Mothers, and for Other Purposes” is pursuant to the declared policy of the state to protect and promote the rights and welfare of working women.

Bon highlighted that all female workers in the private sector, public sector and informal economy including female national athletes and female members who are voluntary contributors of the Social Security System are covered regardless of the civil status, employment status, or legitimacy of the child.

Bon also clarified that the employer shall be responsible for payment of salary differential between the full salary and the actual cash benefits received from the SSS for entire duration of leave.  Exempted in this provision are distressed establishments, retail/service establishments and other enterprises with 10 workers and below and micro-business enterprises with total assets of 3M and below.  Subject however to annual submission of justification for DOLE approval.

Also discussed are the provisions of Republic Act No. 11165 – “An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector. RA 11165 was primarily established to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare, especially in the light of technological development.

Telecommuting as defined by the law is a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

Accordingly, an employer may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, or as result of collective bargaining, and upon such terms and conditions as they may mutually agree upon.

The orientation was followed by a question-and-answer session, which allowed labor inspectors and other participants to clarify some provisions of the law.   DOLE XI OIC-Assistant Regional Director Jason P. Balais also gave his insights/standpoint on the issues and concerns raised.

ARD Balais in his closing message, expressed that the role of Department of Labor and Employment especially the Labor Inspectors is critical in ensuring that the provisions of the law are fully complied by the establishments in Davao Region.   He underscored the importance of primarily understanding the law and its implementing rules and regulations. “We need to understand these first to ensure effective implementation in the Region,” he added.

The session was participated by DOLE Provincial Heads, Division Heads, Labor Inspectors and selected Regional Technical Staff. (By Suzette Jane A. Antiveros, LEO III, TSSD, DOLE RO XI)